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Lessons from Failures – Quebec Bridge

by Donald Charrett

Dr Donald Charrett (2008) 119 Australian Construction Law News 19

This paper reviews the Royal Commission Report into the first collapse of the Quebec Bridge during its construction.  This failure occurred 100 years ago, and in addition to its historical interest, the Report details the lessons learned that are not only timeless, but still relevant today. 

Although the failure of the Quebec Bridge had a predominantly “technical” cause in respect of inadequacies in the quality of design and/or construction, the focus of the paper is on the contractual and procedural aspects of project execution (particularly time, cost and scope of work), and the extent to which they may have been contributing factors to the collapse.  The deaths resulting from this and other failures are a salutary reminder that failure to implement the appropriate contractual procedures and execute the works in compliance with the requirements of the contract can have much more serious consequences than a dispute over which party is liable to pay damages.

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