Inquiry into “dangerously slippery” roadway in Hamilton passes the $20M mark, as expected

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Published November 29, 2022 at 1:27 pm

The cost of finding out why the City of Hamilton did not tell the public that the Red Hill Valley Parkway was dangerously slippery has hit a milestone, although it is in keeping with a recent projection.

On Wednesday, the newly-inaugurated elected leadership of Hamilton will receive its first updates on the cost of the RHVP Inquiry. The probe was ordered 3½ years ago after media reports uncovered that a November 2013 report from Tradewind Scientific about safety hazards on stretches of the RHVP was kept from the eyes of the public. That report by Tradewind Scientific found that the RHVP lacked sufficient friction values in “nearly all areas.”

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Phase 2 of the inquiry is “tentatively” scheduled for January and February. That is expected to be completed by the end of March 2023.

“Phase 2 will focus on expert evidence looking at factors that contributed to motor vehicle accidents on the Red Hill Valley Parkway, as well as policy and governance issues at the City of Hamilton that arise from the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference,” states an update that was posted at rhvpi.ca on Tuesday.

The cost, per the update that the city’s legal and risk management service division will present to the GIC (general issues committee) on Wednesday (Nov. 30), is $20.557 million. But the last update in August said the eventual tab for the city would reach $26 million by the end of March 2023. The expenses are being funded by the city’s tax stabilization reserve.

About half of the cost to date is taken up by the commissioner counsel, which has interviewed 40 current or former employees and pored over some 4.4 million documents. Eventually, the commission will make recommendations aimed at preventing another similar oversight.

The city says it isn’t expecting the commissioner’s costs to jump up a notch.

“No such notice of exceeding the estimated legal fees has been received to date from Commission Counsel,” the report reads.

The buried RHVP report was completed only six years after the city-owned 7-km expressway opened in 2007. Tradewind Scientific based its findings on British safety standards, since there are no friction standards for North American highways.

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