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Friday, 24 June 2016

New Song.....Full Tilt Boogaloo by Mike Pearson and Steve Sainas ( with Mike Van Eyes )

I scratched out the lyrics and musical ideas while working on a logging road project up by Prince Rupert.

It's partly an "answer song" to Hot Rod Lincoln....( original song 1955 )...made popular by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen in the early seventies. Hot Rod Lincoln was itself an answer song to the 1950 tune by Arkie Shibley..."The Hot Rod Race"

Bill Kirchen stills tours and plays an energetic and masterful version of The Hot Rod Lincoln

My song writing partner, Steve Sainas crafted great guitar work and breathed musical life into Full Tilt Boogaloo. I decided to try adding some rocking boogie piano by Vancouver's master of the keys, Mike Van Eyes....and that set the song on fire!

Currently in pursuit of getting other bands to cover it.

Full Tilt here...turn it up.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A word for the new age of corporate communications..."Spokes-Drone"

Spokes-Drone or spokesdrone.

A nearly anonymous spokes-person for a company or bureaucratic entity. Average or pleasant looking, with an even tempo of speech delivery even while standing knee high in company generated shit.

Management is in survival mode, or career any rate, can't afford to speak on the subject of the day.
1. Something has gone badly wrong

2. Something will go badly wrong in short order

3. We strongly deny the charges...despite video evidence, a confession and the testimony of 23 nuns.

4. We would like to remind everyone of out sterling reputation....before the bribery, cocaine possession, influence peddling. making false reports and intimidating witnesses, and wiretapping charges.

5. Mis-direction and story spin is standard issue in the corporate communications hand book. Spokesdrones don't know about misdirection, they only know "this is the message"

6. Paying a multi -million dollar fine and not admitting guilt = not guilty....therefore a win....and double bonuses!! Everybody wins....except the losers....and who gives a fuck about them....hahahaha.

What, or who is a spokesdrone?

Spokesdrones are not inherently evil. They, similar to most people...... just want to be liked.

If management promises to like them and pay them on time, they will regurgitate the corporate or bureaucratic spin....on demand, almost with delight....nearly giddy.

Spokesdrones take special training to avoid having their own thoughts or opinions.
Spokesdrones only know what they are told. Spokesdrones have had their own opinions waterboarded out of them. They are pure vessels, waiting to be filled with "the message'

Remember the movie "Pulp Fiction"?......the line "Bring out the gimp".....that's very similar to the call to action for the spokesdrone.

Spokesdrones are disposable....a company or bureaucratic entity can fire a spokesdrone if the message goes bad. Management survives.

But....spokesdrones are like cockroaches, they don't really die. A true spokesdrone will resurface somewhere else....spouting some other 'message' like it was the god's honest truth.

Spokesdrones do not utter the word "truth"

Spokesdrones masturbate to the word "corporate"

Spokesdrones have wet dreams about being able to say " we categorically deny all charges"

You can tell when the "spin" is on.... management is not taking calls...the spokesdrone repeats the message over and over in the face of guilt and fault and evidence.

The company or government that uses spokesdrones doesn't have to make any changes at the top...they just cycle through new a new spokesdrone....the old spokesdrone the new spokesdrone.

You....the PUBLIC .......Refuse to hear the spokesdrones message....demand truth and accountability.

This message is brought to you by Sam Fitzpatrick ....killed 7 years ago on a Peter Kiewit project. His dad , Brian is still battling the American construction behemoth for just a twinkling of justice.

Ryan Tones....Step up and take the heat.

CEO Bruce Grewcock...Step are running Peter Kiewit Sons company into the ground. Any CEO that oversaw the disaster that was the Toba/Montrose project would have stepped down out of shame and embarassment.

You and your company are not welcome here anymore. The Sam Fitzpatrick case will be your Waterloo.

That's not even starting in on the Sea to Sky Highway MSE wall defects( millions in warranty repairs )....or the Port Mann gantry collapse due to your cowboy mentality.....and the free pass by WorksafeBC on that incident...or the inferior fill materials at the Cape Horn Interchange, or Kiewit managers gambling at the Hard Rock casino during work hours....drug use during shifts by jobsite managers, Kiewit supervisors sleeping with workers.....Kiewit staff bringing hand guns across the there anything your guys won't do?

Bruce Grewcock, Kiewit CEO.....time to be thinking about Florida time shares and hitting little white balls into plastic cups. 

 Sea to Sky Highway Defects
23 Aug 2015

Feb 2016 Vancouver Sun newspaper front page story 
 A father's grief turns to anger, and then action

Sam Fitzpatrick at Toba project shortly before his death

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Link to Sept. 21/2015 Laila Yuile Story on Sea to Sky Highway Repairs

 Click here for link to Laila Yuile story

Porteau wall quality issue

Pasco MSE retaining wall rebuild and re-facing below active Sea to Sky Highway

Pasco MSE wall rebuild at the point of getting new concrete facing installed

Wall 78 just a few hundred meters south of Pasco Rd. Heavily overgrown ( new in 2008/2009 )

Overgrown Wall 78 on Horseshoe Bay Drive. MOT and road maintenance contractor issue.

Bulging in the wire wall near Porteau Cove

Brandywine Falls/CNRail Overpass rebuild after 5 years. Steel rebar embedded in dirt and rocks. Excavation not barricaded from public access

Brandywine Falls/CNRail Overpass retaining walls rebuild due to faulty components, plus failed DCP anchor bolts replaced after attempts at pressure grouting to fill voids behind wall

Pasco wall...after new soil nails to stabilize the wall...and before new concrete facing

Bulging wire mesh retaining wall above Horseshoe Bay Drive, near Pasco Rd.

Earlier image of Pasco Rd. MSE wall after getting soil nails installed to stabilize the wall
Large horizontal bulge in MSE wall 9450R at Upper Levels highway section of Sea to Sky
One of many over-size gaps in MSE Wall 9450R that supports the Upper Levels Highway (Build quality issue)

Upper Levels MSE Wall 9450R that supports Upper Levels Highway....leans in and out across the entire length of the wall

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Rusty Logging Machines and Potato Vodka

A search for the highly recommended Pemberton Distillery, netted a great yard full of mixed ...dead, decrepit and still functioning logging equipment.
On one side of the lane was the industrial building that houses the new-ish booze business, and across the way is the parking area for a local logging contractor.
The Pemberton Distillery inputs are locally sourced ingredients including potatoes, and the output products are numerous....including premium vodka, gin and absinthe. 
Hard to find...worth the effort.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Kiewit Built Defective MSE Retaining Walls on the Sea to Sky Highway


  1. 1.
    imperfect or faulty.

    "complaints over defective goods"

    synonyms:faulty, flawed, imperfect, shoddy, inoperative, malfunctioning, out of order, unsound; More
    in disrepair, broken;
    informalon the blink, on the fritz

    "a defective seat belt"

This going to be a photo and comment post about the Kiewit built MSE ( Mechcanically Stabilized Earth ) walls on the 2010 Sea to Sky highway project.

 Just to keep things simple and move along quickly.

I became curious about the Sea to Sky MSE walls in 2013, after reading about the problems on the CalTrans 405 Freeway project. Kiewit built MSE retaining walls along side the freeway that started to show signs of distress immediately after being built.

I had worked on the S2S project from the beginning in 2006 to 2008 as a blasting superintendent. Our crew did all the rock blasting in preparation for the MSE wall construction. I had a front row seat to all the planning meetings, and the work that followed.

When I went back to visit one of the first MSE walls built in the West Vancouver section of the S2S job, I was shocked at the miserable condition it was in. The interesting part of the wall can only be accessed by a hike down the front that risks life and limb. I knew where to go, because my crew drilled and blasted all the access to the wall site.

Here are some low res images of the original construction from 2006. MOT wall number 9450R, Holding up the Upper Levels section of Hwy99.

Excavating blast rock from the future site of MSE wall 9450R at Upper Levels highway

Foundation work for wall 9450R

The original bridge ( upper left ) was demolished by a contractor when the MSE wall came up to height

Carpenters doing the form work for the foundation of MSE wall 9450R

Foundation work for wall 9450R. Looking west towards approach to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal
This is the hoe-drill, drilling  4 inch holes through the concrete and steel rebar for 10 meter long DCP anchoring bolts. I asked MOT if installing the anti-corrosion coated bolts through jagged steel rebar ends was OK for longevity. They assured me that the construction quality report showed no issues.

If you look along the front edge of  the upcoming wall, you can already see how wonky the alignment is. All MSE construction and inspection manuals say this is the time to go back and remove all out of spec work and start over.

Aerial view of part of MSE wall 9450R with part of the old Upper Levels Highway on the right

"Over compaction" with a 10 ton roller...too close to the outer edge...and too many passes probably caused most of the defects. That galvanized wire grid is what holds the wall together once it gets buried.
 Here are images from trips to the same wall in 2013/2014

Wall 9450R holding up the Upper Levels Highway just before the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal...Leans in and out like a drunken who signed off on this crap, on behalf of the province of BC? Defective MSE wall. 
On average, the specs for bulging and/or "out of plumb" North America...averages between 1/2 and 3/4 inch over a 10 foot straight edge...can we say that it's fairly obvious that Wall 9450R...fails that test in many areas of the wall?

 MSE wall inspection manuals state that "negative batter"...( leaning out ) is not good for the longevity of the wall. It places large stresses where they don't belong...promoting early failure. The horizontal bulges must doing the same thing...over-stressing the wall components.

Colorado DOT specs for MSE concrete wall panel construction

(j) Panel Facing. For walls that support a roadway, the wall layout line at the leveling pad shall be setback and pre-measured with appropriate batter (5 to 8 percent) from the top of the panels according to the offset with respect to the centerline of the road. For walls adjacent to a roadway, the wall layout line at the leveling pad shall be directly offset from the centerline of the road. An overall negative batter (wall face leaning outward) between the bottom and the top of the wall is not allowed. Unless otherwise noted on the plans for battered walls, the final wall face shall be vertical, or have a positive batter of not greater than 5 percent for construction control purpose. The surface of the wall face shall be tested with a 10 foot straightedge laid along the surface in horizontal and vertical directions. Except as necessary for horizontal alignment of the wall, convex deviation of the wall face from the straightedge (belly wall) shall not be allowed, and concave deviation from the straightedge shall be less than ½ inch.


Panel Facing Payment Reductions. In this subsection, a “panel” refers to either a concrete panel or a hybrid unit. Each of the following shall be considered a defect:
  1. Dislocated Panel. A dislocated panel is an individual panel or its corner located outward more than ¼ inch from the adjacent panels.
  2. Cracked Panel. A cracked panel is an individual panel with any visible crack when viewed from a distance equal to the wall height in natural light.
  3. Corner Knock Off. A corner knock-off is a panel with any missing facial corners or architectural edges.
  4. Substandard panel. Substandard panels are concrete panels installed in any wall segments that do not meet the certified values for compressive strength. Each substandard panel counts as one defect.
  5. Oversize Joints. Panels with oversize joints are two adjacent panels that do not meet the required values in subsection (a) 6 E under MATERIALS.
  6. Panels Failing the 10 Foot Straightedge Test. Straightedge test failures are joints that that deviate from even by more than ¼ inch when measured by placing a 10 foot straightedge across the joint.

Defects shared by two adjacent panels such as oversized joint, dislocated panel and panels not passing 10 foot straight edge test will be count as one defect.

In the completed wall, or completed portion of the wall the number of defects, as described above, in each 40 foot section (horizontal or arc length) will be counted. If there are defects, the number of defects in the 40 foot section will be considered for price reduction according to the table below. For panels subjected to price reduction, if the defects are repairable or the overall quality of wall can be improved, with the consent from the Engineer, the Contractor may elect to repair and reduce the percent of price reduction. A walkthrough inspection shall be made as requested by the Contractor before final payment.

No. of Defects in 40 Foot Section
> 5
% Of Price Reduction for that section

When the number of defects exceeds 5, the Engineer will reject the entire wall or portions thereof. The Contractor shall replace the rejected wall at his own expense.

That's me bush-wacking down to the bottom of the wall to get the shots.
The horizontal bulge in wall 9450R is very hard to photograph despite it's size....Doesn't seem to want to show up well. I solved some of that by hanging a plumb line down the wall. The Bulge is amazingly beyond design specifications....yet...there it is.
The BC Ministry of Transportation describes this as merely "cosmetic" 
Horizontal bulge and displaced concrete panels in MSE wall 9450R on Upper Levels Highway ( Hwy 99...Sea To Sky )
Water drainage issues causes many problems...backfill settlement and the introduction of road salt to the steel reinforcing wires behind the wall. In this area of 9450R, the drain water has been bypassing the pipes and running through the wall.

 Gaps between concrete panels in MSE wall 9450R

Add caption

Some sort of dog's breakfast repair going on here during original construction process.
 So, interestingly enough, wall 9450R is not scheduled for repairs. A very nice wall at Pasco getting a rebuild. MOT is jumping up and down claiming that the rebuild is on Kiewit's own dime.

Wall 9471A at Pasco Rd. looks very nice. 

Proper batter ( laid back a bit...and very consistently so ) Nice alignment of concrete panels, even gaps...all looks very good. It also has the job of holding up the new section of the S2S highway.
However, MOT and Kiewit insist that simply by reviewing the paperwork, they discovered that faulty rebar or horizontal straps were only one particular section.

( see below for Sept 8/ 2015 update with link to MOT inspections and communications regarding reasons for Brandywine Falls/ CNRail overpass repairs )

Most of the MSE wall repairs that I have researched in North America, have had obvious external signs of strain. The buckling, bulging or outright collapse has always got the attention of highway engineers.
Of the 219 MSE walls on the 130km long project, this wall was deemed to have invisible defects buried in behind the good looking facing.

Do I have photos of that area under construction? Yes!

 Flash forward to the summer of 2015, and the concrete panel wall 9471A is getting completely rebuilt. The original panels are getting drilled and long soil nails are getting installed ( 10 meters ? I guess )

Then a heavy rebar cage is getting installed in front of  the old facing. Either shotcrete or a formed face will be installed over the rebar cage ( not complete on Aug. 22/ 2015 )

Here is a drawing of a soil nailing set-up ( not too much different from rock bolting )
Shows the drill rig and steel soil nails through the wall and into earth/soil/rock in behind to anchor the wall face

These are July 2015 images

Soil nails driven through the Pasco Rd MSE wall to repair a defect in the buried steel mesh behind the wall.....says MOT spokesperson

Good looking Pasco Rd MSE wall is getting expensive repairs, while the visibly defective 9450R gets nothing. BC MOT says that the problems with 9450R are merely cosmetic and do not affect the expected 75 yr life span.

Ladies and gentlemen...Todd Stone vs some pretty basic questions from Claire Trevena

Next...... Todd Stone and "mitigative work" and defending Kiewit. Note....he gets the number of retaining walls on the project....wrong. There's 219 walls on the S2S highway project.
The Todd Stone drama cont'd and Claire Trevena asks for an independent audit.

 And images from August 2015 MSE wall rebuild

Thick rebar steel cage to support a new concrete facing on the Pasco Rd MSE wall

As an educated guess, I would say the retail cost of repairing the Pasco wall, including inspection, engineering, management, office costs, traffic control, materials is in excess of  2 million bucks
Sept 20/2015 Pasco wall update photos

 End of Sept 20/2015 Pasco update photos

Deformed MSE wire wall on Sea to Sky Highway near the faulty Pasco Road MSE wall.

Perhaps, as Minister Todd Stone and Kiewit would say...this is only a "cosmetic defect." Did we get a price break because we got cosmetically defective work? Why should BC tolerate cosmetically defective work on our major highways?

I would guess that the bent wires in this Sea to Sky MSE wall must be getting stressed by being bent at that angle...will it last the expected 75 yrs? Was it poorly built that way...or has 5 yrs of down pressure pushed it out?

Wall 78 a few hundred meters from Pasco Rd. Overgrown with vegetation. Only a few years old

I'll post more images as the job progresses.

Brandywine Falls area, CN Rail overpass....HWY99 ( Sea to Sky )

I was coming back from a road trip to the interior, and decided to stop and see what was happening here.
Very stealthy setup...hard to see anything from the highway.

Unfortunately for Kiewit and MOT, I was the only guy to stop and get out of my car with a camera.

The "Safety First"..."Don't Walk by an Unsafe Act"...."Nobody Gets Hurt" Kiewit....had left and open excavation on the edge of the roadway.  It was the perfect "gringo trap"....long and deep and full of sharp ends of cut off rebar steel.
So, despite the fact that I wanted to come back with a bigger camera, I decided to alert MOT and PKS to the killer hole.

I'm still waiting for an official response from Kiewit.

The open excavation also held a mystery. 

Why, oh why is steel rebar buried in rocks and dirt??? ( it's supposed to be encased in concrete )

Why does the rebar in the ground look like it was just tossed in there, instead of meticulously laid out???

  Minister Todd Stone said that they were doing some "mitigative work"....well doesn't that look like a total rebuild down there by the tracks? Old concrete sectioned DCP bolts getting wall or wall facing going up.

The entire support system for the rail overpass looks to be getting replaced. Mitigative work....remember that one.

Unrestricted access to an open excavation

A mishmash of rebar buried in dirt and a CN Rail overpass...still waiting for an explanation

Looks like a nice lawsuit sitting there doesn't it?

In the year 2015, this is a pretty dumb move. If a cyclist crashed into that...I can't imagine the millions it would cost to settle the lawsuit.

Complete rebuild of the support structure ( mitigative work )

I've heard from various sources that the original DCP anchors failed due to the voids in the back-fill. Two semi-truck loads of pressure grout failed to fix the issue

  Sept. 7 2015 email from MOT in response to me notifying them of the open excavation and unchallenged access to it. I sent the same photos as you have here.
 Viz screen and concrete "no post" barriers separate the active lane from the edge....but no barriers, tape or signage to prevent walkers and cyclists getting to the open hole and rebar.

My original email to MOT

Hello Deborah
The photos enclosed were taken at 2 pm on Aug 19/ 2015.
The first thing we need to talk about and fix the unprotected/ unmarked hole in the road surface.
Any walker/ hiker or cyclists has unimpeded access to that dangerous and carelessly placed excavation. That's a massive lawsuit just sitting there staring at the contractor and MOT.
So, if that hole and pile of rebar exists there this a.m. then push the panic button now.
A review and punishment is in order for that new low in unprofessional work.
1. Bizarre, that we are looking at steel rebar that was embedded in dirt and rocks.
That pile of rebar was cut from what was in the " ground" and discarded on the road surface.
The rebar that remains in the "ground" ...looks like it was dumped there, rather than carefully placed according to engineering specs.
2. Looking from the roadway, down to the railway level...
The removal of sections of the "new" abutment, and cutting of rebar.
Looks like new dcp bolts are currently being installed.
A new wall, or wall facing is being installed.
Quite extensive repairs to five year old work, I would say
Question... Is the other support wall ( other side of track) going to get the same treatment?
Question. If Kiewit can't " build it right the first time"... and leaves hazards on public roads in defiance of " Nobody gets hurt"..and " Don't walk past an unsafe act"....then this whole "warranty" repair process is an ugly joke.
The Province of BC deserves better than this.

Sept 2 2015 response

Hi Mike,

In response to your observations of the CN wall work at Brandywine, these repairs are being done as a result of the same documentation reviews which instigated the Pasco Road wall works. These are the only two walls on the Sea to Sky corridor requiring such work, as a result of those reviews.

Further, in regards to the work conditions you photographed, Kiewit’s crews have informed us that all these areas were located behind a protective fenced off area; with signage in place to inform the public of an active construction site. Additionally, the sections of rebar you came across had actually just been removed and slated for disposal. Lastly, the cut out section is not the abutment, rather they are pockets cut into the CN rail crash wall, permitting installation of new anchors. This also ensures that the new anchors do not interfere with CN’s rail right-of-way.

I hope this email serves to provide some clarity to your observations. Thanks again for sharing.


Deborah Tan
Concessionaire Manager
Lower Mainland District
Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure
Ph: (604) 527-2289

Added Sept 8 2015
MOT inspection reports and near the bottom...discussions on how/why Brandywine and Pasco issues were discovered

This highway project was opened just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
It is often misquoted as costing 600 million.
The 2012 BC Auditor General report put the capital cost at 795 million ( before interest payments and maintenance costs )

Now, millions of "secret dollars" are being spent to fix errors in engineering and construction. American behemoth Kiewit, while hauling in 12 billion dollars a year...didn't "Get it Right the First Time" on the the Sea to Sky highway.

All the players in MOT and engineering have been very quick and very loud to point out that there are NO SAFETY ISSUES with the defective S2S walls and Brandywine CNRail overpass. 

This, is supposed is to prevent any serious questioning of the faulty work done. 

But, there are defects in engineering, inspection and construction...expensive problems. Expensive problems that have a root cause. Problems that need to be investigated through to a logical and complete conclusion. If the defects in the S2S project are fully investigated and the results made public, then it reduces the chances of repeating the errors.

( once fooled, but twice is our own damn fault )

The Province of BC paid top dollar for the Sea to Sky Highway upgrade.
MOT is now trying to downplay the discovery of faulty work and improper components in a complex project that is ultimately funded by the public.

Is it possible that MOT upper management is more interested in protecting the relationship with their American contractor, Kiewit...than they are in informing the BC taxpaying public about the current and future situation on the Sea to Sky Highway?

All the MOT staff and Minister Todd Stone are paid out of the public purse. The S2S project is paid for from the same seemingly bottomless purse. ( 795 million + maintenance + interest...puts the bill over 1 billion dollars. )
Fair answers to fair questions is not too much to expect, even in the twilight of accountability in this country. ( and the heyday of "spin" , denial and deflection. )

To finish 
Inspect every damn inch of the Sea to Sky project. All 130 kilometers worth. Find and fix every defect, fault and oversight that affects the lifespan, structural integrity and "paid for" dollar value.

If the Province of BC was complicit, aiding or supporting shoddy work at taxpayer expense...for short term glory...then that is a whole other ball of poop.

2 videos that explain a bit about MSE walls.

The TxDOT video talks about the wall specs as it goes up. Kinda looks like Kiewit workers.

This video describes the general process of building an MSE wall.

Engineering report on why MSE walls under-perform or fail

 MSE Wall Engineering - Kleinfelder

News stories, radio and television about the Sea to Sky defects...

CBC Radio interview ( click the little box on the right )

Global TV

Another retaining wall on the Sea-to-Sky needs repairs ...

Laila Yuile 

Troubling photos spark Ministry of Transportation ...

sea to sky highway | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on ...
North Shore News 

Highways critic calls for audit - North Shore News

Vancouver Sun
 BC Transportation Minister rebuffs NDP call for independent ...
Here are some news items from back when the project was getting built, and all the players were
elbowing in for an interview.
Now that things are going wrong.....silence. Nobody home.

Sea to Sky engineering an amazing feat - Vancouver Sun

Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement | MMM Group

Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement Project - Kirk & Co ...

Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement Project | Hatch Mott ...

Some examples of Sea to Sky highway retaining walls under construction.
 My photos taken from a helicopter.