Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Engineer lambastes Hamilton, Ontario for Red Hill Valley Parkway flooding

Jeremy Grimaldi in the via the Hamilton Spectator (Canada): A highly regarded engineer has slammed the City of Hamilton's decision to build a highway through the area's last greenspace "come hell or high water." Professor Brian Baetz, chair of civil engineering at McMaster, said the engineers behind the Red Hill Valley Parkway do not deserve the blame for continued flooding that put lives at risk in the valley during last week's flooding. He likened the project to "building a gazebo on quicksand."

"They effectively built a road on a flood plain," he said. "To be frank, I lay this at the feet of the city." The former member of Friends of Red Hill Valley said, if the city had planned the project properly, it would have requested emergency planning for a bigger one in 500-year storm rather than planning for a one in 100-year storm, which is what was used.

"We knew almost everything about climate change when this was built," said the sustainability expert. "If you know that climate change is coming, the city should have sat down with experts to ensure a huge safety net was incorporated into the plans, I'm talking about a 500-year storm."

In an article published last month in the Canadian Consultancy Engineer publication, Ron Scheckenberger, the project manager of the Red Hill Valley Parkway drainage system, said: "The drainage system for the parkway performed exactly as designed -- it flooded exactly where it was predicted to, in the amount that it was predicted to. "So the question remains: 'Should expressways be designed to higher or different standards?'

"Only time will tell. With the spectre of climate change on the horizon, there will need to be close attention to standards, and analytical tools will need to keep pace."...

Red Hill Valley Parkway, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; looking south from the Greenhill overpass, shot by Whpq, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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