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City staff worried about being blamed for Red Hill deficiencies: testimony

City staff worried about being blamed for Red Hill deficiencies: testimony

Under cross-examination at the Red Hill Inquiry Thursday, Dr. Ludomir Uzarowski was unshaken in his earlier testimony that his recommendations for improving skid resistance on the Red Hill Parkway were dismissed by Gary Moore who was in charge of engineering at Hamilton Public Works. Delna Contractor, lawyer for Hamilton, repeatedly questioned Dr. Uzarowski about the final report Golder submitted on the project in 2017, noting that the final report did not express concerns about friction. But Dr. Uzarowski had previously testified references to friction testing were removed at the request of the city, only because another consultant was performing a safety audit on the RHVE. That change was made only after consultation with Golder’s legal counsel to ensure that the consultant was not exposing itself to risk for making the change.

He repeated his earlier testimony that the city had rejected his recommendation to take measures such as “shot-blasting” to improve the friction characteristics of the road fearing that it would be an admission of deficiency in the road at a time when lawsuits were circling the city. “100 percent, they did not want to do the work. (saying) we would get the blame…” Dr. Uzarowski insisted today.

Ms. Contractor’s attempts to make some distinction between what was contained in the Golder report to the city, and Dr. Uzarowski’s testimony regarding his concerns about friction, draw attention to what has become a persistent theme in the hearings thus far…the seemingly widespread practice of the client, in this case the city, negotiating conclusions and recommendations with consultants, and in some cases suggesting fundamental alterations. The fact that, as Uzarowski testified, a consultant such as Golder engages in-house council to vet consultant reports, suggests concerns in this area. Uzarowski told the inquiry that he consulted with Golder lawyers while he was discussing changes to his report with city officials.

The consultants who have been questioned about this practice thus far in the inquiry, have tended to downplay the degree to which it is common, their hesitation understandable since, with the exception of Uzarowski who has retired, many are still engaged in consulting work with municipal clients.

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