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Challenges, Risks and Successes in the Construction of the Lake St. Martin Emergency Channel


The magnitude of flooding in Manitoba in the spring and summer of 2011 brought an unprecedented challenge to the Province of Manitoba. Using the criteria of feasibility, utility and constructability, several options for managing the flood levels were considered. After some analyses, the construction of the Lake St. Martin Emergency Outlet Channel was chosen as the best option. The requirement to complete construction of the channel prior to winter freeze-up represented a major challenge. With the decision to build being made on July 22nd, only four months were left to complete the final design, contract awards, mobilization, and construction by November 1st. In addition, construction was constrained by project location which was accessible only by boat, barge or helicopter, and was flooded at the time of construction. Once the magnitude of the job (2 million cubic meters of material) and the timelines had been set, the next task was to estimate the type and amount of heavy equipment required to complete the required excavation on schedule. Almost simultaneously, potential contractors had to be selected based on their recent performance and equipment capability. It was decided that Manitoba would assume the majority of the risk for the project in order to negotiate the best financial rates possible for this time-sensitive and complex project. Provincial representatives met with contractors to negotiate contracts and set rates encompassing as much of the equipment and construction scenarios that could be anticipated. It was also the intent of contract negotiations to maximize local aboriginal involvement in the project. The contractors, MIT and AECOM worked as a team to plan construction and oversee the work. This effort resulted in a project completed on time, well under budget, and with an impressive safety record that was seen as an integral part of the successful flood fighting effort in Manitoba. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Ron Weatherburn
Construction, Maintenance and operations