Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Retaining wall caves at HSC site

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THERE have already been major complications involving the delivery of a new women's hospital at Health Sciences Centre.

Sherbrook Street between Elgin and William avenues was closed after part of a concrete retaining wall collapsed early Wednesday. The incident occurred at 6 a.m. at the construction site of the major HSC addition.

The one-block closing of that major downtown traffic artery is expected to last five days.

Sean Barnes, vice-president and district manager of PCL Constructors, said part of a retaining wall made from concrete beams dropped more than one metre in places. Barnes said the retaining wall is designed to stabilize the soil during construction and support the weight of cars, people and construction equipment.

Construction officials believe subsurface ice and recent rainfall may have weakened the area, though the cause is under investigation by geotechnical engineers. Barnes said there are porous sand pockets beneath Sherbrook Street where water accumulates. He said the underground ice, quick thaw and recent rainfall likely helped increase the ice underground, which acted like a wedge against the concrete beams.

Barnes said there's a monitoring system that keeps tabs on any movement of the retaining wall. Late Tuesday, he said the monitors found the wall had moved 20 centimetres.

Barnes said engineers were told to check on the system to see if remedial work was needed, but during that time, the wall suddenly failed. He said no one was injured and the sidewalk was already closed to pedestrians during construction.

He said this type of retaining wall is used across North America and such a collapse is very uncommon. "This is extremely rare."

Two lanes of traffic were initially closed on Sherbrook between William and Elgin Wednesday afternoon. Later in the day, the other two lanes were closed. He said the sidewalk caved in and the bank has to be stabilized. It will take two weeks to do the repairs, which Barnes said PCL will pay for.

He said the incident will not delay construction.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2012 B1

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