For centuries now, concrete has proven to be the most reliable building material, bar none. And so today, it is also the most widely used man-made construction material. One need only consider the infrastructure of any developed nation to be reminded of these facts.
Concrete has been used to build Canada’s infrastructure for well over a hundred years. Because its strength, durability and flexibility in design provide the performance required for these projects, it is usually the material of choice for bridges, buildings, roads and sidewalks, ports, dams, offshore production platforms, and other critical elements of our infrastructure. A recent example is the Confederation Bridge. Built to link Prince Edward Island to the rest of Canada, the curved, 12.9 kilometre long bridge is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water and more than a decade after its construction, remains one of our country’s top engineering achievements of the 20th century. It has an expected service life of 100 years.
In Canada, well established standards and building codes prescribe requirements for materials, design and construction, the three key components of any construction project. These codes and standards have public safety as their primary objective and are continually updated on a prescribed schedule to ensure that our materials and construction practices effectively address our infrastructure needs as they evolve.
As one would expect, proper maintenance of a structure after it is built is also vital to achieving its expected service life.
Structural collapses are rare events. When a structure fails, it is invariably due to a number of contributing factors and a thorough investigation is conducted to determine the exact cause of the incident and recommend appropriate preventative measures for the future.