A professional engineer reviewing the problem of corroding culvert pipes in Ontario says it is only a matter of time before someone dies because of a highway collapse.
Gerry Mulhern, the executive director of the Ontario Concrete Pipe Association, said Ontario's infrastructure needs serious repairs, which he has been saying for years.
The situation in Ottawa is especially worrisome, he added.
The City of Ottawa has ordered a 3.6-metre-wide concrete pipe to replace the one that collapsed Tuesday, which caused the sinkhole on Highway 174 that swallowed a car.
The city originally planned to re-line the steel pipe that runs under the highway.
"If the pipe had not collapsed that would still be our plan," said infrastructure manager Alain Gonthier. "We will still be re-lining the westbound lanes as originally planned. But under the eastbound lanes it will be a concrete pipe."
As a representative of an association that builds concrete pipes, Mulhern has a vested interest in seeing the old steel pipes replaced with concrete.
But he has reviewed hundreds of inspection reports for corroding steel pipes, he said, and many should have been replaced years ago.
He also admitted, though, he does not want to say, "I told you so."
"I said two years ago it's just a matter of time until somebody gets killed. I'm saying the same to you today. We've been lucky," Mulhern said.
Mulhern said the Ministry of Transportation needs to take a leadership role and acknowledge the infrastructure problems across the province.
Repairs will take time to complete, Gonthier stressed Thursday, and city staff is working "around the clock" to fix it.
The city has secured 18 sections of the new pipe and there are another two arriving Friday from Quebec. The rest of the pipe needed to replace the 50-year-old storm drain pipe is expected next week.
The pipe collapsed Tuesday, leading to the sinkhole that swallowed the car of motorist Juan Pedro Unger as he drove home. Unger crawled out of the hole and escaped, but the car remains underground.
Traffic on Highway 174 is not likely to be flowing again until the week after next.