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Consultant’s Red Hill safety report underwent revisions that removed references to safety concerns

Consultant’s Red Hill safety report underwent revisions that removed references to safety concerns

The red Hill Inquiry heard from Gerry Davis, who was the head of Hamilton Public Works from 2009 until his retirement in 2016. Davis described a vast department that ate up nearly half of the city operating budget and over 800 employees, covering everything from roads, transit, water and wastewater. He told commission council that he relied heavily on the technical knowledge of the various department heads who reported to him. In addition during part of this period, his department was also overseeing the construction of the Tim Hortons Stadium.

Davis was unable to provide much in the way of detailed information regarding the Red Hill Expressway. He was unaware of the existence of the Tradewinds Report which identified substandard friction issues on the highway. He said he signed reports that were presented to council but trusted implicitly the managers below him who wrote the reports.

Relations with consultants

Testimony once again touched on the way staff reports and the consultants’ report that support them are carefully massaged before council gets to see them.

Commission council spent most of the morning dealing with a safety report that had been ordered on a motion by Councillor Chad Collins following public and media concerns about a number of accidents on the RHCE, Staff were directed to investigate upgrading the lighting on the Red Hill Parkway in the vicinity of the Mud/Stone Church Rd interchanges; and to investigate better reflective signage and lane markings or other initiatives to assist motorists in the same area. Testimony shed a light on the way consultants and the city staff who hire them interreact, particularly the process of massaging the wording of consultant reports.

Ultimately a consulting firm CIMA was hired to do the work.

They produced an initial report that read:

The findings of the study indicated that, overall, the RHVP is operating safely when compared with other roads with similar characteristics. However, several locations were identified as performing worse than would be expected, and for those locations, various countermeasures were developed and scrutinized. This led to numerous recommendations for improvement…”

After reviewing the report, Gary Moore, who had been in charge of the design and construction of the RHVE wrote to his staff: about his concerns that lighting the road was an impossibility because it had been specifically ruled out as a condition of receiving environmental approval. He wrote: “there are constraints that preclude the erection of lighting on several ramps; it is not recommended in any way shape or form to erect lighting on partial basis and we can’t afford it… That doesn’t even begin to address the fact we shouldn’t be talking about potential improvements that will give any claimants more ammunition! I thought you guys met with Chad (Collins) and he was happy????? Did we get CIMA to finalize the report to our liking? Before they ask for a copy?

CIMA came back with a report that was revised to read:

The results of the testing and investigation carried out on the RHVP indicate that the pavement structure is in good condition and performing well. The observed cracking is anticipated to be a function of the material and not due to fatigue damage or the environment.

The revised report omitted all references to poor road performance and necessary improvements. Despite the Moore email discussing getting the consultant to “finalize the report to our liking,” Gerry Davis insisted that no consultant would change its advice under pressure saying, “I can’t believe they would go against their opinion to appease the city or any other client.”

Report revised again for Council consumption

However, a city staffer felt otherwise writing to a colleague: Gary (Moore) has a vested interest in this from the beginning and has influenced it somewhat already. Off the record I think he even spoke to CIMA. I am asking if you can schedule a meeting with him for us to talk as we cannot afford staff issues as we report to Council. He was on the original team that built the roadway. There is nothing wrong with the review or recommendations from the Consultant. I deem this extremely sensitive as I don’t need any nonsense related our actions on Councillor Collins motion.”

The report that went to council was further watered-down reading, “The findings of the (CIMA) study indicated that the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) is operating safely. However, the report did suggest implementing several minor safety countermeasures that could enhance or improve driver safety and security, most of which was sign and pavement marking changes.”

Bullying Allegations raised again

Commission council tried to explore Gary Moore’s management style with Davis, submitting an anonymous letter that talked about bullying and swearing on the part of Davis. It was similar line of questioning that had been directed towards former Hamilton City Manager Chris Murray, also supported by an anonymous letter. Several of the communications contained in documents posted by the Inquiry seem to show underlings concerns on the issue. Both Davis and Murray, to whom Moore reported described him has having strong opinions, but Davis, whose office was two doors down from Moore said he had never heard any untoward language.

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