ARCHIVED — International Bridges and Tunnels Regulations

Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Vol. 143, No. 4 — February 18, 2009

Registration

SOR/2009-17 January 29, 2009

INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS ACT

P.C. 2009-117 January 29, 2009

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, pursuant to sections 14 and 15 of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act (see footnote a), hereby makes the annexed International Bridges and Tunnels Regulations.

INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS REGULATIONS

INTERPRETATION

1. (1) The following definitions apply in these Regulations.

“Bridge Inspection Manual” means the Bridge Inspection Manual — Bridge Engineering Highways and Bridges, published by the Department of Public Works and Government Services, the English version of which is dated March 2001 and the French version of which is dated October 2005. (Manuel d’inspection des structures)

“Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code” means standard CAN/ CSA-S6-06, Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code, November 2006, published by the Canadian Standards Association. (Code canadien sur le calcul des ponts routiers)

“detailed visual inspection” means an element-by-element visual assessment (including hands-on inspection of fracture critical members) of the material defects, performance deficiencies and maintenance needs of an international bridge or tunnel. (inspection visuelle détaillée)

“engineer” means the holder of a licence from the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec or an association of professional engineers of a province of Canada or state of the United States. (ingénieur)

“Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection Manual” means the Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection Manual (2005), published by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration of the United States Department of Transportation. (Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection Manual)

“Manual for Condition Evaluation of Bridges” means the Manual for Condition Evaluation of Bridges, second edition, published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, including its 2001 and 2003 revisions. (Manual for Condition Evaluation of Bridges)

“Manuel d’évaluation de la capacité portante des structures” means the Manuel d’évaluation de la capacité portante des structures, December 2005, published by the ministère des Transports du Québec. (Manuel d’évaluation de la capacité portante des structures)

“Manuel d’inspection des structures — Évaluation des dommages” means the Manuel d’inspection des structures — Évaluation des dommages, December 2004, published by the ministère des Transports du Québec, including its November 2005 update. (Manuel d’inspection des structures — Évaluation des dommages)

“Minister” means the Minister of Transport. (ministre)

“New York State Bridge Inspection Manual” means the Bridge Inspection Manual — 1997, published by the Department of Transportation of the State of New York, including Addendum 1 dated April 1999 and Addendum 2 dated November 2001. (Bridge Inspection Manual de l’État de New York)

“Ontario Structure Inspection Manual” means the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (OSIM), October 2000, published by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, including its November 2003 and April 2008 revisions. (Ontario Structure Inspection Manual)

“underwater inspection” means a visual or tactual inspection of the submerged structural elements of an international bridge, including a scouring inspection of the bridge. (inspection sous-marine)

(2) In the event of an inconsistency between a provision of any material incorporated by reference into these Regulations and any other provision of these Regulations, that other provision shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

(3) For the purposes of interpreting a document incorporated by reference into these Regulations, “should” shall be read to mean “shall”.

APPLICATION

2. (1) These Regulations apply in respect of the international bridges and tunnels listed in the schedule.

(2) These Regulations do not apply in respect of railway bridges and tunnels.

PART 1

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR

INTERPRETATION

3. The following definitions apply in this Part.

“international bridge” means a bridge, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes approaches to the bridge but does not include facilities related to the bridge. (pont international)

“international tunnel” means a tunnel, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes approaches to the tunnel but does not include facilities related to the tunnel. (tunnel international)

“team leader” means, in respect of the inspection of an international bridge or international tunnel, an engineer who conducts the inspection or who exercises supervisory functions over a person who conducts the inspection, and who has

(a) in the case of a bridge, a minimum of five years of experience in the design, construction, repair, maintenance and inspection of bridges; and

(b) in the case of a tunnel, a minimum of five years of experience in the design, construction, repair, maintenance and inspection of tunnels, including their installed electrical, communication, mechanical and plumbing systems, and a knowledge of the standards and codes applicable to the construction and operation of tunnels. (chef d’équipe)

INSPECTION

4. (1) An owner of an international bridge shall ensure that a detailed visual inspection or an underwater inspection of the bridge is conducted in the manner set out in the

(a) Bridge Inspection Manual;

(b) Ontario Structure Inspection Manual;

(c) Manuel d’inspection des structures — Évaluation des dommages;

(d) Manual for Condition Evaluation of Bridges; or

(e) New York State Bridge Inspection Manual.

(2) An owner of an international tunnel shall ensure that a detailed visual inspection or an inspection of the electrical, communication, mechanical and plumbing systems of the tunnel is conducted in the manner set out in the Highway and Rail Transit Tunnel Inspection Manual.

FREQUENCY OF INSPECTIONS — INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES

5. (1) An owner of an international bridge shall ensure that a detailed visual inspection of the bridge is conducted at least once every two years.

(2) An owner of an international bridge shall ensure that an underwater inspection of the bridge is conducted at least once every five years.

FREQUENCY OF INSPECTIONS — INTERNATIONAL TUNNELS

6. (1) An owner of an international tunnel shall ensure that a detailed visual inspection of the tunnel is conducted at least once every year.

(2) An owner of an international tunnel shall ensure that an inspection of the electrical, communication, mechanical and plumbing systems of the tunnel is conducted at least once every year.

INSPECTION BY THE MINISTER

7. (1) The Minister may conduct an inspection of an international bridge or international tunnel after giving reasonable notice to the owner.

(2) An owner of an international bridge or international tunnel shall allow the Minister access to the bridge or tunnel for inspection in accordance with the notice.

REPORTS

OBLIGATION TO REPORT

8. An owner of an international bridge or international tunnel shall submit to the Minister, for each inspection conducted under section 5 or 6, a report on the condition of the bridge or tunnel.

CONTENTS OF REPORT

9. (1) An owner of an international bridge or international tunnel shall ensure that the report referred to in section 8 contains at least the following information:

(a) the date of the inspection;

(b) the names of the persons who conducted the inspection;

(c) the elements of the international bridge or international tunnel that were inspected;

(d) in the case of an international tunnel, a list of the electrical, communication, mechanical and plumbing systems that were inspected;

(e) the utilities and their supports whose damage would have an impact on the safety of the international bridge or international tunnel;

(f) recommendations in respect of maintenance and repair projects, including recommendations as to when such projects must be completed and a list of maintenance work to be carried out;

(g) a list of inspections to be conducted following the inspection in respect of which the report is prepared, and a recommendation as to when those inspections must be completed;

(h) the maintenance work, major repairs and other work completed in respect of the bridge since the previous inspection report; and

(i) the special condition surveys, tests and other additional engineering investigations into the condition of the international bridge or international tunnel completed since the previous inspection report.

(2) The owner shall ensure that the report is accompanied by a letter signed and sealed by two engineers, one of whom is the team leader, attesting to the correctness of the information in the report and providing a statement as to the overall condition of the structure.

SUBMISSION OF REPORT

10. The owner of an international bridge or international tunnel shall submit the report referred to in section 8 within one month after the day on which it is approved by the owner but not more than six months after the day on which the inspection is completed.

ADDITIONAL ENGINEERING INVESTIGATIONS

11. An owner of an international bridge or international tunnel shall submit to the Minister a final report signed and sealed by two engineers, relating to a special condition survey, test or other additional engineering investigation conducted in respect of the bridge or tunnel, other than the evaluation referred to in section 12, within one month after the day on which the report is approved by the owner but not more than six months after the day on which the additional engineering investigation is completed.

EVALUATION OF THE LOAD CARRYING CAPACITY OF AN INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE

12. An owner of an international bridge shall ensure that an evaluation of the bridge’s capacity to carry traffic loads is conducted in accordance with the requirements set out in the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code, the Manual for Condition Evaluation of Bridges or the Manuel d’évaluation de la capacité portante des structures when any of the following occur:

(a) observed or suspected defects, deterioration or damage that may affect load capacity;

(b) an anticipated increase in actual or permitted traffic loading or in loading effect;

(c) a change in road classification;

(d) a review of the load limit that is posted;

(e) an alteration to the bridge that may affect its live load carrying capacity;

(f) an application for a permit to allow a vehicle not conforming to the load limit to cross the bridge; or

(g) an unsatisfactory performance of the bridge in respect of serviceability or fatigue.

LOAD CARRYING CAPACITY EVALUATION REPORT

13. (1) An owner of an international bridge shall submit to the Minister a report on an evaluation of the bridge’s capacity to carry traffic loads within 60 days after the day on which the evaluation is completed.

(2) If an owner of an international bridge has completed an evaluation of the bridge’s capacity to carry traffic loads before the day on which these Regulations come into force, the owner shall submit a report on that evaluation to the Minister within 60 days after the day on which these Regulations come into force.

(3) An owner of an international bridge shall ensure that the report on the evaluation of the bridge’s capacity to carry traffic loads, other than the report referred to in subsection (2), is signed and sealed by two engineers.

PART 2

OPERATIONS AND USE

REPORTS

14. (1) Subject to subsection (2), an owner of an international bridge or tunnel shall submit to the Minister at least once every two years a report related to the operation and use of the bridge or tunnel.

(2) An owner of an international bridge or tunnel shall submit the first report related to the operation and use of the international bridge or tunnel to the Minister within six months after the day on which these Regulations come into force.

(3) An owner of an international bridge or tunnel shall ensure that a report related to the operation and use of the international bridge or tunnel, other than the first report, is submitted within 90 days after the last day of the period covered by the report.

CONTENTS OF REPORT

15. (1) An owner of an international bridge or tunnel shall ensure that the report referred to in section 14 contains at least the following information:

(a) the number of vehicles passing over a point or segment of the international bridge or tunnel per month for each of the following types of vehicles:

(i) passenger cars,

(ii) trucks, and

(iii) buses and vehicles other than those referred to in subparagraphs (i) and (ii);

(b) the types of vehicles that were permitted to use the international bridge or tunnel and the conditions or restrictions related to that use;

(c) the tolls, fees or other charges applicable to users for the use of the international bridge or tunnel;

(d) a brief description of all written complaints received in respect of the operation and use of the international bridge or tunnel; and

(e) a description of the procedures that the owner has put in place to manage complaints from the public relating to the operation and use of the international bridge or tunnel.

(2) An owner of an international bridge or tunnel shall ensure that the report referred to in subsection 14(3) contains the information set out in subsection (1) in respect of the period immediately following the period covered by the last report.

CHANGES AND CLOSURES

16. The owner of an international bridge or tunnel shall inform the Minister, in writing, of any of the following events within 30 days of its occurrence:

(a) a change in tolls, fees or other charges;

(b) a change in the types of vehicles permitted to use the international bridge or tunnel and, in the case of a newly permitted type of vehicle, the conditions or restrictions under which that type of vehicle is permitted to use the bridge or tunnel;

(c) a change in the conditions or restrictions under which a type of vehicle referred to in the most recent report is permitted to cross the international bridge or traverse the international tunnel;

(d) a change in normal operating hours; and

(e) the closure of the bridge or tunnel, or the closure of one of its lanes for a period of 48 hours or more.

COMING INTO FORCE

17. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

SCHEDULE
(Subsection 2(1))

INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS

Item

Name and Location

 

New Brunswick to Maine

 1.

Campobello — Lubec Bridge (Campobello, New Brunswick — Lubec, Maine)

 2.

Clair — Fort Kent Bridge (Clair, New Brunswick — Fort Kent, Maine)

 3.

Edmundston — Madawaska Bridge (Edmundston, New Brunswick — Madawaska, Maine)

 4.

Forest City Bridge (Forest City, New Brunswick — Forest City, Maine)

 5.

Thoroughfare International Bridge (Fosterville, New Brunswick — Orient, Maine)

 6.

Milltown Bridge (St. Stephen, New Brunswick — Calais, Maine)

 7.

St. Croix — Vanceboro Bridge (St. Croix, New Brunswick — Vanceboro, Maine)

 8.

St. Leonard — Van Buren Bridge (St. Leonard, New Brunswick — Van Buren, Maine)

 9.

St. Stephen — Calais Bridge (St. Stephen, New Brunswick — Calais, Maine)

 

Ontario to the states of Michigan, Minnesota or New York

10.

Ambassador Bridge (Windsor, Ontario — Detroit, Michigan)

11.

Baudette — Rainy River Bridge (Rainy River, Ontario — Baudette, Minnesota)

12.

Blue Water Bridge (Point Edward, Ontario — Port Huron, Michigan)

13.

Fort Frances International Falls Bridge (Fort Frances, Ontario — International Falls, Minnesota)

14.

International Rift Bridge (Hill Island, Ontario — Wellesley Island, New York)

15.

Peace Bridge (Fort Erie, Ontario — Buffalo, New York)

16.

Pigeon River Bridge (Pigeon River, Ontario — Grand Portage, Minnesota)

17.

Prescott — Ogdensburg Bridge (Prescott, Ontario — Ogdensburg, New York)

18.

Queenston — Lewiston Bridge (Queenston, Ontario — Lewiston, New York)

19.

Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls, Ontario — Niagara Falls, New York)

20.

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario — Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan)

21.

Three Nations Crossing Bridge (Cornwall, Ontario — Roosevelttown, New York)

22.

Whirpool Rapids Bridge (Niagara Falls, Ontario — Niagara Falls, New York)

23.

Windsor — Detroit Tunnel (Windsor, Ontario — Detroit, Michigan)

 

Quebec to Vermont

24.

Glen Sutton — East Richford Bridge (Glen Sutton, Quebec — East Richford, Vermont)

REGULATORY IMPACT
ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issue: Bridge and tunnel structures are essential to the Canadian road network, particularly with respect to trade and the transportation of goods across Canada. Whenever such a structure fails, or its load-carrying capacity is compromised, public safety is jeopardized, the efficiency of the transportation network is impaired, and the public is inconvenienced.

There are 34 international bridges and tunnels between Canada and the United States with various governance regimes (i.e., Crown corporations, joint authorities and private companies). The owners of these bridges and tunnels do not necessarily have an obligation to report to the Government of Canada (GoC) on the operations and maintenance of their structures. Of these border crossings, 24 are vehicular bridges and tunnels, 9 are railway crossings, and one is for pedestrians only.

In light of the fall 2006 collapse of a portion of the De La Concorde overpass in Laval, and the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis in the summer of 2007, the public has looked to various levels of government to ensure the viability of these important elements of the national transportation infrastructure. The International Bridges and Tunnels Act (IBTA), adopted in 2007, has given the GoC an oversight responsibility for the operations, maintenance, and security of these international bridges and tunnels.

In order for the GoC to effectively perform its oversight role, information must be available. Regulations are necessary to ensure that all international bridge and tunnel owners provide consistent information on the maintenance and operation of their structures. The International Bridges and Tunnels Regulations (the Regulations) create a consistent approach for reporting on the maintenance and operation of these structures.

Description: The Regulations apply to international vehicular bridges and tunnels and put into place requirements concerning the inspection of them. Reports must be submitted to the GoC every two years on maintenance and operations (e.g., frequency and type of major maintenance performed, the inspection results, the types of vehicles permitted and any restrictions applied to them), and must also include any actions necessary to ensure the structures are kept in good condition.

Cost-benefit statement: Given that Canada’s trade with the United States is equivalent to 53% of its gross domestic product (GDP), and that the vast majority (62%) of Canadian trade with the United States crosses our shared border by land, the Regulations will promote the safe operation and long-term viability of these essential bridge and tunnels. The Regulations are not expected to place a significant burden on international bridge and tunnel owners.

Business and consumer impacts: Industry groups have stated that in the event that a crossing were compromised, in a matter of several hours production lines would begin to stop in various parts of Canada and the United States. The free flow of goods across international bridges and tunnels significantly affects exporters, importers and consumers because of the strong economic ties between Canada and the United States.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: The Canadian approach to the collection of information from bridge and tunnel owners, and the government authority to compel specific intervention, are compatible with the approach in the United States, where they require all bridges located on public roads to be inspected and to be reported on, in order to satisfy their National Bridge Inspection Program. The GoC will coordinate with the appropriate bridge authority in the United States for any intervention that may affect both sides of an international bridge or tunnel.

Performance measurement and evaluation plan: In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Regulations, data compiled using inspection reports from the international bridges and tunnels will be reviewed at least on a biennial basis. The data reported will be used to support a five-year review of the provisions and operation of the IBTA and its Regulations. The review will be tabled before the House of Commons, and will allow for an assessment of how the IBTA works, whether there are problems in its scheme or application, and whether any changes are warranted.

Issue

The IBTA received Royal Assent on February 1, 2007. The Act establishes an approval mechanism for the construction, alteration and acquisition of international bridges and tunnels, and provides authority to establish regulations for their operation, maintenance, and security. Furthermore, the Act provides the GoC with the authority to order international bridge and tunnel owners to take necessary action to ensure the safe and secure operation of these important elements of Canada’s infrastructure.

Under the IBTA, the Governor in Council (GIC) has the authority to make regulations

  • requiring the owner of an international bridge and tunnel to prepare reports on the condition of these;
  • specifying the frequency of the reports and the information to be provided;
  • requiring any person to provide to the Minister of Transport (the Minister) information on the maintenance and repair of the international bridges and tunnels;
  • providing for the inspection of international bridges and tunnels by the Minister or a person designated by the Minister;
  • providing for the operation and use of international bridges or tunnels by types of vehicles;
  • respecting any matter pertaining to procedures to be followed relating to the treatment of complaints in respect of tolls, fees and other charges; and
  • respecting the services that are provided by owners of international bridges or tunnels.

Transportation plays such a vital role in Canada’s economic life and in the lives of Canadians that, under the Act, international bridges and tunnels are declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada. (see footnote 1) This confirms that the GoC has legislative jurisdiction with respect to them. (see footnote 2)

The Regulations will provide a consistent approach for stakeholders in satisfying the accountability needs of Canadians and will also ensure a transparent approach to the safe operation and longevity of these international bridges and tunnels.

Following the collapse of a portion of the De La Concorde overpass in Laval, Quebec, in the fall of 2006, and the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the summer of 2007, the public has questioned the structural integrity of bridges and tunnels. Various reports pointed to the Government’s role in ensuring the viability of these structures. Not only was there the report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Collapse of the De La Concorde Overpass, (voir référence 3) but there were also reports commissioned by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, (voir référence 4) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, (voir référence 5) that highlighted the need to take action and implement better oversight on the potential frailty of Canada’s international bridges and tunnels.

In order for the GoC to fully play its oversight role and decide on any necessary action, it must have access to information. The Regulations provide requirements that are applied equally to the owners of international bridges and tunnels, such as requiring inspections, and their reports at regular intervals. It is expected that this will provide a level playing field for all owners without impacting their competitiveness. The GoC must have access to necessary decision-making information in order to do its part to reduce the risk, and thus prevent, events similar to those that occurred in Laval and Minneapolis from happening in the future.

Objectives

The purpose of the maintenance and repair provisions is to provide the GoC with information to strengthen its federal oversight role. This will allow it to ensure that structures are safe and maintained to minimize any interruption with the flow of goods and people across the border. The operation and use provisions are intended to ensure that the international bridges and tunnels are being operated in a manner that will ensure the efficient and competitive flow of goods and people without compromising safety from a commercial standpoint. As an example, by having authority over the operation and use of a structure, the GoC can minimize or prevent safety-related issues arising from the transportation of dangerous goods.

Description

The Regulations require that reports be submitted every two years on the inspections of international bridges, and each year for international tunnels, as well as necessary measures to ensure the international bridges and tunnels are kept in good condition. In addition, every two years, a report on the operation and use shall be submitted for each international bridge and tunnel (e.g., the types of authorized vehicles and all applicable restrictions). The Regulations also require that a report be submitted on the international bridge’s load carrying capacity when there are questionable events such as observed or suspected defects, deterioration or damage that may affect load capacity.

The provisions pertaining to the operation and use of international bridges and tunnels provide for a report that contains information on the types of vehicles permitted to use the structure; a summary description of the complaints in respect of tolls, fees and other charges; as well as the procedure put in place to deal with complaints from the public relating to the operation and use of the international bridges and tunnels. In the case of a closure of the international bridge or tunnel or closure of one of the traffic lanes for 48 hours, the owner must notify the Minister.

The Regulations further require that the reports submitted to the Minister be signed by two engineers, and that one of them be the team leader. The team leader is a licensed engineer, responsible for the inspection, and that supervises the inspection team. A team leader may also be a person doing the inspections. This is compatible with industry standards for bridges and tunnels.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The option of revising and harmonizing all existing crossing-specific legislation for each international crossing was considered; however, the GoC did not believe this measure would necessarily ensure a level playing field for all international bridge and tunnel owners. Furthermore, this option would have proven to be a laborious task, and would not have necessarily achieved the GoC’s objectives. In the past, legislation specific to international bridges and tunnels typically focused on the financial aspects of construction, and few provisions were devoted to long-term operations and maintenance.

Options of a more voluntary nature were also considered, such as simply requesting information on a regular basis, or having GoC officials perform inspections themselves and assess the secure and safe operation of the international bridges and tunnels. Leaving it to the discretion of stakeholders to provide the necessary information was not considered effective, as not all were willing to cooperate for reasons of confidentiality or national security. Having the GoC perform safety assessments itself was also not considered an effective solution, since it would increase the cost of operation for the GoC and would have duplicated the current industry practice of inspecting structures on a regular basis. For these reasons, a non-regulatory option was not considered acceptable. Without these Regulations, it would be difficult for the GoC to fulfill its oversight role and meet the objectives of the Act.

Benefits and costs

Rationale

On November 23, 2006, the GoC presented Advantage Canada, a forward-looking plan. It recognized that for Canada—a trade-dependent nation—to remain competitive, it must create world-class infrastructure that ensures the seamless flow of people, goods and services across its roads and bridges, through its ports and gateways, and via its public transit. (see footnote 6)

This regulatory initiative satisfies the Government’s role and provides it with information to help ensure the viability of elements of Canada’s transportation infrastructure. The benefits are expected to outweigh the minimal administrative burden of reporting requirements, which are based on current industry practice.

The importance of international bridges and tunnels to Canada-US economic relations cannot be overstated. Of all the Canada-US border crossings for cars and other vehicles, the three busiest are bridges and tunnels. For trucks, bridges account for the four most heavily used crossings. (see footnote 7)

The Ambassador Bridge, the Blue Water Bridge and the Peace Bridge together carry approximately 50% of all truck traffic between Canada and the United States. Over 30% of passenger and other vehicle traffic make use of the Ambassador Bridge, the Peace Bridge, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Blue Water Bridge. Traffic volumes at other international bridge and tunnel crossings are not as significant; however, the necessity of having an international link in some smaller or remote communities is of great importance for local economies.

Canada and the United States enjoy an economic partnership unique in the contemporary world. In fact, the Canada-United States trade relationship is the largest ever to exist between two nations. In historical terms, Canada has been the leading foreign export market for American goods since 1946, while the United States has been the number one destination for Canadian exports since 1942. Today, Canada is a larger market for American goods than all 27 countries of the European Union combined, which has more than 15 times the population of Canada.

Since the implementation of the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1989, trade between the two countries has tripled. Under NAFTA, growth in bilateral trade between Canada and the United States has averaged almost 6% annually over the last decade. In 2006, Canada’s bilateral trade in goods and services was C$577 billion, with over C$1.6 billion worth of goods and services crossing the border every single day.

Canada’s trade with the United States is equivalent to 53% of the Canadian GDP. The United States represents roughly 80% of Canada’s exports and 50% of our imports. Canada, in return, accounts for 22.2% of America’s exports and 16.5% of its imports. To date, Canada is the number one foreign market for goods exports for 36 of the 50 states and ranks in the top three for another four states. Canada’s total exports shipped to the United States are greater than the total amount of Canada’s trade with all of its other trading partners combined.

The vast majority, 62%, of Canadian and United States bi-lateral trade crosses our shared border by land. Each day, almost 36 000 trucks cross the Canada-United States border, one-third of those at Windsor-Detroit. The Detroit Customs Port of Entry ranks the fifth largest in commercial value in the United States, following the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/ Newark, Chicago and JFK. The Windsor Customs Port of Entry is Canada’s top commercial site. The trade that crosses at Windsor-Detroit is greater than all the trade that exists between the United States and Japan.

Industry groups’ studies show that, should the crossings over the Detroit River be closed, in a matter of several hours, production lines would begin to stop in various parts of Canada and the United States. There is a significant interdependency of the Canadian and American economies, and there is nothing more important to exporters, importers and consumers on both sides of the border than being able to ensure that traffic at the border flows efficiently and that the international supply chain remains strong.

In both Canada and the United States, literally millions of jobs are supported as a direct result of our vital trading relationship. While closure of an international bridge or tunnel would have different impacts for various crossings, in all cases, it would have an impact on lives, bordering economies, trade and social services, as well as the public’s confidence in Canada’s road infrastructure.

Regulatory impact

Receiving regular inspection summary reports following the inspection of each international bridge and tunnel will allow the GoC to monitor the condition of these crossings and ensure their continued safety. The Regulations require that international bridges be inspected at least every two years, and once a year for international tunnels, as the industry currently does.

To promote accountability and public confidence in the GoC’s ability to maintain Canada’s road infrastructure, the Regulations require a licensed engineer to sign inspection reports. This practice offers reassurance for the validity of the information provided to the Minister, and ensures that the GoC has reliable data on which to base its decisions.

Requiring information on traffic volumes, permitted vehicles classes, international bridge and tunnel restrictions, and operating hours and closures will also provide the GoC with useful information to consider in its decisions for possible support or intervention.

While the Regulations are not expected to have a direct or immediate impact on security and safety, the reporting requirements are expected to provide for a better understanding of the operation and viability of these crossings. This will in turn enhance the long-term safety and security of international bridges and tunnels.

The Regulations are expected to have minimal impact on stakeholders, given that the requirements are harmonized with industry practice. For example, the Regulations include recognition of the inspection manuals that owners already use for inspections of their crossings. Furthermore, the Regulations only require a summary report of the inspections, minimizing any administrative burden. The frequency of inspections required is consistent with the provisions of the manuals or by individual provincial or state requirements, such as a detailed visual inspection every two years for international bridges and every year for international tunnels, and every five years for underwater inspections.

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, and the Canadian Department of Transport Policy Statement on Strategic Environmental Assessment, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of this initiative was conducted, in the form of a Preliminary Scan. The SEA concluded that the Regulations are not likely to have important environmental effects.

Consultation

In preparation for the Regulations, the GoC consulted stakeholders regularly, in face-to-face meetings and teleconferences with owners, operators, affected provinces, and federal authorities in the United States.

When the IBTA was adopted, the GoC held a workshop for stakeholders to engage in general discussion on the direction for the various provisions needed in the Regulations. The parties in attendance included international bridge and tunnel owners and operators, as well as provincial government officials, other federal department and agency officials, officials from the United States federal and some bordering states’ Departments of Transportation (i.e., Michigan and Minnesota), and other groups within the GoC’s Department of Transport.

Further to the first workshop, the GoC hosted a second gathering with owners and operators of international bridges and tunnels. The discussions were helpful in developing a regulatory framework that would satisfy the GoC’s objectives: to ensure that the way in which the international bridges and tunnels are managed does not interfere, in any way, with the uninterrupted flow of goods and people across the border; to ensure that the international bridges and tunnels are operated and maintained to keep security and safety at the forefront; to have Canada’s national interest protected; that its borders are secure; and that the safety of the public is maintained. The two workshops were valuable for the development of regulatory requirements that would not cause any overlap or duplication with any similar measures proposed by other jurisdictions. Following these two workshops, draft versions of the proposed Regulations, prepared for consultation purposes, were shared with the affected parties and their feedback was reviewed.

Follow-up discussions between interested stakeholders and the Department of Transport were instrumental in identifying mitigating measures, for example, using existing inspection manuals and harmonizing the frequency of inspections with existing practices. Furthermore, parties agreed in principle that it would be important to offer reassurance for the validity of the information provided, and to satisfy the need for responsibility and accountability of the owners regarding their international bridges and tunnels, by having a licensed engineer sign inspection reports.

Not all owners were confident that they would be capable of monitoring traffic volumes or different vehicle types. Accommodations were thus made during the regulatory process to simplify the data collection of vehicles crossing the international bridges and tunnels.

Also, provisions were presented which would allow government inspectors to inspect international bridges and tunnels upon providing the owner with reasonable notice. Stakeholders expressed concerns that “reasonable notice” was not defined explicitly. It is recognized that a reasonable time may vary depending on the nature and the importance of the inspection; however, such flexibility is required to respond in a timely fashion to urgent situations.

Following the regulatory proposal in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on March 22, 2008, a comment period of 30 days was allotted. During that period, the GoC’s Department of Transport received support for the direction the GoC was taking from two bridge owners. As a Crown corporation, Blue Water Bridge Canada agreed with the proposed Regulations, and highlighted that they believe that these Regulations will help achieve the GoC’s objectives of ensuring that these vital transportation links are well maintained and safely operated. The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission was also supportive of the Regulations, adding that they feel that the Regulations are not onerous and that compliance with them would not create any administrative burden for them. Following the pre-publication of the Regulations, the Canadian Transit Company (Ambassador Bridge) submitted their comments, affirming that the GoC needs to be informed about safety-related issues at international bridges. They further supported the GoC’s ability to compel necessary repairs on any structure that is unsafe. However, it was noted that they continued to be concerned with the GoC’s ability to protect information that, if released, could affect the safety and security of operations. It was explained that with regards to information management, all information requested and provided to the GoC would be handled in accordance with the appropriate classification protocols, information management policies and applicable statutes. Among these statutes are the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act that contain provisions relating to the disclosure of personal or third party confidential information.

One additional comment was made concerning the version of the Ontario Structures Inspection Manual cited in the proposed Regulations. The comment was that, while the manual is dated as being a 2000 version, it does include revisions from 2003 and 2008, thus the reference to the Manual in the Regulations should be cited accordingly. The Regulations as published reference the manual accordingly.

In the preparation for the present publication of the Regulations, the GoC continued its discussions with the affected stakeholders through regular meetings and other related events. GoC officials also attended a meeting with the Public Border Operators Association (PBOA) (see footnote 8) on June 10, 2008, to discuss the progress on the Regulations. The members confirmed their support for the Regulations. In another discussion with the New Brunswick Department of Transportation, owner of nine international vehicle bridges, they also expressed their support for the regulatory initiative.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The Regulations come into effect on the date they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The IBTA contains provisions with respect to enforcement and administrative monetary penalties, which detail the process to be followed should any provision of the Act, the Regulations, or any order or directive made under the Act, be contravened. If an owner or an operator of a bridge or tunnel does not comply with the applicable provisions set out in the IBTA, the owner or operator may be fined as prescribed in these provisions.

Sections 38 to 42 of the IBTA concern enforcement of the Act and associated Regulations, and section 43 provides penalty ranges for violations: up to $5,000 in the case of an individual and up to $25,000 in the case of a corporation. A continuing offence exists for offences that are committed or continued on more than one day. Furthermore, section 43 provides for the contravention regime which the Minister may designate by regulation.

Summary reports on the various inspection and operations data required by the Regulations are to be sent to the Minister where they will be reviewed and monitored against future maintenance, repairs or operation activities of international bridges and tunnels. The information gathered will be considered and kept for necessary support or intervention.

Performance measurement and evaluation

The Regulations include provisions for reporting requirements related to maintenance and repair, and to the operation and use of international bridges and tunnels. The Regulations are expected to help improve governance and accountability of key transportation infrastructure, which is in line with the Canadian Department of Transport’s performance objectives. (see footnote 9) Receipt of reports would have the expected result of verifying that a consistent application of safety and security standards is being applied, and will help in the assurance that these international bridges and tunnels are operated and maintained in accordance with Government objectives.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Regulations, data compiled using inspection reports from the international bridges and tunnels will be collected and reviewed on a biennial basis. The data reported will be used to support a five-year review of the provisions and operation of the IBTA and its Regulations. The report of the review will then be tabled before the House of Commons. It is intended that the review will also allow for an assessment of how the IBTA works, whether there are problems in its scheme or application, and whether any changes are warranted.

Contact

Brian E. Hicks, P. Eng
Director
Bridge Policy and Programs
Surface Infrastructure Programs Directorate
Transport Canada
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5
Telephone: 613-998-1900
Fax: 613-990-9639
Email: hicksb@tc.gc.ca

Footnote a
S.C. 2007, c. 1

Footnote 1
Section 5 of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act (S.C. 2007, c. 1)

Footnote 2
Under the Constitution Act, 1867, subsection 91(29) gives Parliament jurisdiction over such works

Footnote 3
Commission of Inquiry into the Collapse of the de la Concorde Overpass, www.cevc.gouv.qc.ca/Rapport/index.html, October 2007

Footnote 4
Ontario’s Bridges Bridging the Gap, prepared by: MMM Group, November 2007

Footnote 5
Danger Ahead: The Coming Collapse of Canada’s Municipal Infrastructure, Saeed Mirza, Ph.D., Eng., November 2007

Footnote 6
Transport Canada’s 2007-2008 Estimates Report on Plans and Priorities

Footnote 7
Transportation in Canada 2006, Table A7-13 and 14, www.tc.gc.ca/pol/en/ Report/anre2006/add/index.htm

Footnote 8
Members of the PBOA include representatives for the Blue Water Bridge, the Cornwall Bridges, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the Niagara Falls Bridges, the Ogdensburg Bridge, the PEACE Bridge, the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge, and the Thousand Islands Bridges.

Footnote 9
Progress Against the Department’s Regulatory Plan, Departmental PerformanceReport, www.tc.gc.ca/Finance/DPR/06-07/eng/Progress_Against_Department_Reg_Plan/Progress_Against_Department_Reg_Plan.htm