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Road Talk

RoadTalk 16-4

Ontario's Transportation Technology Transfer Digest — Fall 2010 — Vol. 16, Issue 4


  1. Was it Worthwhile?
  2. A Top Infrastructure Priority
  3. Let it Rain!
  4. Technology That Takes Root
  5. The Evolution of Design-Build
  6. Critter Crossings
  7. Not Just for Coffee Cups!
  8. Not Just a Pretty Face
  9. Green Concrete

Was it Worthwhile?
Results of funding transportation research through partnerships

A typical vehicle travelling on highways in northern Ontario, carrying a heavy load

A typical vehicle travelling on highways in northern Ontario, carrying a heavy load

Direct Liquid Application

Direct Liquid Application

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has a long history of pursuing and funding transportation research through partnership arrangements. This strategy has allowed the ministry to tailor research to priority areas while leveraging research and development dollars through combining funding resources with others. Recently, the ministry analysed the efficacy of this strategy in yielding good value and return on investment.

Highway Infrastructure Innovation Funding Program (HIIFP)

The HIIFP was established in 2003 to encourage and assist Ontario universities and colleges to pursue basic and applied undergraduate and graduate research in transportation infrastructure, with possible subject topics including: Engineering Materials, Environment, Highway Design, Structures, Construction, Traffic Operations, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Geomatics, and Maintenance. HIIFP is explicitly intended to solicit innovative approaches, methodologies and outcomes to address ministry business needs, while focusing and leveraging research dollars. Any ensuing research reports are made available on the ministry's public website, through the MTO Library at:

To date, 103 individual projects have been funded at 12 Ontario institutions. A little less than one-third of the projects are multi-year. MTO has disbursed $4.6 million and leveraged additional funding of $3.4 million for a total research value of $8.0 million. Funding levels have averaged $571,000 annually, with an average funding amount of $33,000/project/year.

Special Projects Research

HIIFP is the ministry's formal highway research funding program that, with its current budget, typically funds about 13 projects annually. Additional research needs are supported through other arrangements, such as bi-lateral partnerships with universities, programs or researchers; pooled funding opportunities with the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) and Federal Highways Administration (FHWA); specific in-house projects; or other internal / external partnerships. For instance, in 2009/10, MTO special projects research included: four university research projects; 12 pooled funding projects with TAC and FHWA; one in-house project; and one internal/external partnership. Over the 18 projects, MTO funding of just under $600,000 leveraged other funding of over $2.5 million.

Intangible Benefits

Although demonstrating the tangible value of conducting research in this manner is vital, less quantifiable merits were not overlooked. Several intangible benefits that were identified:

  • Through hands-on, relevant projects, university and college students are encouraged to pursue a career in the highway transportation field
  • Academic researchers develop a better understanding of MTO research needs
  • MTO develops a better understanding of academic research directions, expertise and specialized equipment and is better able to pursue and implement innovation
  • Multi-partner relationships among MTO, academia and industry allows MTO to sit as an active steering committee member and direct research focus

Measurable Return on Investment

In terms of research dollar leverage, the HIIFP has performed well. For every $1.00 MTO has invested, another $0.74 has been invested by another party.

Determining the measurable value of funding arrangements considered research dollars' return on investment: “Transportation research is considered valuable when the result is perceived to be worth an amount equal to or greater than the funds spent on it.”[1] The projects themselves have yielded good return on investment to MTO, as illustrated by the following examples:

Video Logging

A Ryerson project - to increase the operational use of the ARAN vehicle and automate collecting field data - was later refined and implemented by MTO province-wide. From an initial research investment of $34,000 ($24,000 from MTO), MTO estimates annual savings of $150,000 by expanding ARAN data collection through the addition of video logging equipment, rather than operating separate data collections.

Alkali-Silica Reaction

A University of Toronto project correlated short-term laboratory tests with long-term performance to predict concrete behaviour, which improved understanding of detrimental chemical processes in concrete. This new information was subsequently incorporated into ministry specifications to improve the quality and extend the life of concrete. With a research investment of $29,000, MTO calculates implementation of the changed concrete standards that can add one extra year of bridge life before rehabilitation or replacement occurs - at a savings of $40,000/structure - for an overall savings of $72 million over the life of the ministrys 1,800 concrete bridges.

Effect of Winter Weather and Maintenance Treatments on Highway Safety

A University of Waterloo project demonstrated that Direct Liquid Application for anti-icing operations was associated with a reduction in accidents during winter storms, and that pre-treatment of granular salt with anti-icing liquid made it 18 to 40% more effective than dry granular. From a research investment of $30,000, MTO estimates that this application will reduce ministry use of 100,000 tonnes of materials at a savings of $7 million annually. More importantly, it is expected to reduce accidents, saving lives, injury and property damage.

Research dollar leverage in special projects partnering with universities, TAC and FHWA has been excellent. In 2009/10, for the four university projects, funding from others compared with MTO contributions was at a ratio of over three to one. In the 12 pooled TAC and FHWA projects, MTO contributed about one-tenth of the required funding. The following two examples demonstrate the kind of return on investment that these partnerships have produced:

Seasonal Load Advisory System

Currently, reduced load periods are imposed and removed based on calendar dates. A University of Waterloo project, now in the second of three years, has been using a series of sensors and models, to quantify when frost enters and leaves the roadway profile. Improving the accuracy of determining reduced load periods has potential to increase the life of surface-treated roads significantly. An American study found that a 50% weight reduction during thaw increased service life by 95%. MTO has contributed about a quarter of the $524,000 project, and expects to realize cost savings by being able to accurately impose reduced load periods and extend the service life of roads susceptible to this type of damage.

Implementation of the Simple Performance Tester for Superpave Validation

MTO has contributed to a three-year, $1.6 million FHWA study of performance tests used to characterize asphalt mixtures designed using Superpave technology. Performance predictors of such pavements - e.g. predicted pavement life and rutting resistance - could be used for analysis, as well as linked directly to implementation of the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide. An FHWA study has shown a reduction in life cycle costs of at least 5%. Based on a figure of $250 million in hot mix asphalt placed on MTO projects in 2009, a 5% reduction would produce annual savings of $12.5 million for the ministry.

Proven Value

Based on the FHWA definition, many of the projects that MTO has funded through partnership arrangements have proven demonstrably worthwhile by several measures. There is ample evidence that research benefits include cost savings and improvements to asset quality and longevity. The ministry plans to continue its partnership approach into the foreseeable future, supporting appropriate research projects with potential for such benefits. As well, MTO plans to seek additional and new research partnerships and models, so it may continue to implement innovations and provide good value in using its resources.

[1] NCHRP Report 610: Communicating the Value of Transportation Research

For more information, please contact:

Finlay Buchanan, Coordinator for Technology and Innovation at: or (905) 704-2980.

A Top Infrastructure Priority
Progress on the Windsor-Essex Parkway

The left side of this photo shows noise barrier poles being "planted" by the highway at Tecumseh on Highway 401, in preparation for noise barrier installation.

The left side of this photo shows noise barrier poles being "planted" by the highway at Tecumseh on Highway 401, in preparation for noise barrier installation.

The Windsor-Essex Parkway is one of Ontario's highest profile projects and with good cause. Once built, this state of the art 11 kilometre below grade freeway will feature eleven tunnelled sections, a four-lane service road, 20 km of recreational trails and more than 300 acres of green space. It will be the most significant single highway investment in Ontario history.

The Windsor-Essex Parkway is being delivered as Ontario's first Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) highway project in partnership with Infrastructure Ontario. On August 6, 2010, the request for proposals closed with three short listed bidders submitting proposals to deliver the Parkway. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and Infrastructure Ontario plan to identify a preferred proponent in fall of 2010. The Windsor-Essex Parkway will remain publicly owned, publicly controlled and publicly accountable.

Since receiving environmental assessment approval in 2009, the Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group (Windsor BIIG) of MTO, has been moving quickly prior to full construction scheduled to start in 2011. Activities have included property acquisition, demolition, initial construction and habitat restoration.

Property acquisition is well underway. Less then 100 of the approximately 900 property agreements required for construction of The Windsor-Essex Parkway remain to be finalized. As the ministry has purchased a number of properties with materials that could be used by the community, Windsor BIIG has partnered with local volunteers for a first of its kind pilot project, called WE Pay It Forward. To date, volunteers have salvaged over 150 tonnes of materials including windows, doors, electrical fixtures, cabinets and bathtubs from over 130 buildings. Habitat for Humanity, one of the local community groups receiving the materials, has had unprecedented sales this summer, tripling its typical monthly sales figures. In addition to benefiting the community, building materials are kept out of landfill. This pilot project is being examined by the ministry for future demolition projects elsewhere in Ontario.

Windsor BIIG has awarded four demolition contracts totalling more than $360,000 to local Windsor-Essex companies for removal of buildings on properties purchased for the Parkway. Approximately 50 properties have been demolished to date with more slated for demolition by the end of 2010.

Efforts underway also include the protection and enhancement of Ojibway's tallgrass prairie habitat and eight identified species at risk. MTO is working closely with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources on detailed management, monitoring and habitat restoration plans. Through these plans MTO is protecting, creating and restoring hundreds of acres of habitat, enhancing links between natural areas and the long-term survival of species at risk. This past summer, Windsor BIIG Environmental Planners worked with a team of experts to build a hibernaculum that will be a future home for Butler's garter snakes and Eastern Fox snakes.

Initial construction activities currently underway are nearing completion. A $15.5 million contract was awarded to Facca Construction to build two bridges and a two kilometre noise barrier where Highway 401 meets Highway 3. Crews are currently installing innovative transparent panels in the noise barrier to improve the visibility of the landscape for both residents and drivers. Heavy construction of the bridge structures and noise barrier began earlier this year and will be completed this fall.

The Windsor-Essex Parkway is considered Ontario's number one economic infrastructure priority. Delivery of this innovative project will support Ontario's economic growth and ensure Ontario's transportation system remains a key driver for economic competitiveness.

For more information, please contact:

Heather Grondin, Manager, Communications and Issues Management Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group at 519-973-7359 or at

Let it Rain!
New Design Support Tool Developed to Identify Rainfall Intensity, Duration, and Frequency across Ontario

When designing highway drainage infrastructure such as culverts, bridges, sewer systems and roadside ditches, good estimates of peak rainfall intensity are essential. Quality rainfall data enables designers to make calculations that meet drainage capacity design standards and avoid the over or under design of drainage elements. Both can be expensive: over design may waste resources and under design can result in additional maintenance or repair costs.

In collaboration with the University of Waterloo, MTO has recently developed a web-based tool for Rainfall Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) curves. The first of its kind in Canada, this tool uses the latest Environment Canada data available at 125 Meteorological Services of Canada (MSC) stations across Ontario to determine rainfall intensities for any location in the province.

Design flow rates for a particular area are typically estimated using Rainfall Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) curves. The curves summarize extreme rainfall patterns for a particular location, by representing the statistical relationship of rainfall intensity corresponding to storm duration and frequency, by graph or table.

Figure 1: A sample Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) curve.

Figure 1: A sample Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) curve.

Historically, MTO provided these curves for each MTO District in a hard copy document which was developed based on Environment Canada data up to 1989. An update of these curves was necessary to reflect more up-to-date Environment Canada data and to provide a more robust, easy to use and more comprehensive coverage of these curves across Ontario. Furthermore, climate change implications are beginning to be reflected by the recent precipitation records. It is essential to periodically update these IDF curves when additional data and new techniques become available so that the climate change implications (if any) are reflected in a timely fashion.

The new web-based tool can provide the IDF curves electronically at any location across the Province and uses up-to-date data from Environment Canada.

The three main objectives of the MTO/University of Waterloo project were to:

  • Review the advanced statistical methods for rain gauges interpolation,
  • Develop an independent statistical method to derive regional IDF curves for Ontario;
  • Design a user-friendly, updatable interface to provide graphic and tabular presentation of the IDF curves; and
  • Provide error estimates at gauging station locations to indicate the statistical fit of the model results to actual measured values.

The project study team selected interpolated annual maximum rainfall depth statistics for nine storm durations and six return periods to develop the updated IDF curves. This data, acquired from the WATMAPPR (Waterloo Multiple Physiographic Parameter Regression) model, were converted into a more useable format and the tool's user interface was developed using JavaScript, XHTML, PHP, and Google APIs (e.g., 'Maps' and 'Charts').

The new IDF curves are project location based. The limits of a highway project are identified on the user interface by two representative locations. These locations are defined either by entering their latitude and longitude coordinates or by selecting the locations from the Google Maps interface.

With coordinates, the system identifies the IDF curve representative of these areas. The display shows the % error at the two identified points by assigning a representative colour to the icons. If the % error is greater than the acceptable value the highway section can be divided into two sections by adding a third intermediate point. This will result in dividing the highway project into two areas each with a different IDF curve.

Figure 2: Example site location: QEW near Hamilton.

Figure 2: Example site location: QEW near Hamilton.

In most highway projects, one IDF curve will be representative of the rainfall statistics for the entire project. In rare cases, two IDF curves may be necessary. For bridge and culvert design, multiple points can be selected to define the boundary of the catchment area contributing water to the crossing location.

Figure 3: Graphical presentation of the IDF curve by the interface tool.

Figure 3: Graphical presentation of the IDF curve by the interface tool.

Figure 4: Tabular presentation of the IDF curve by the interface tool.

Figure 4: Tabular presentation of the IDF curve by the interface tool.

The new IDF curves, MTO's latest design support tool, ensures that future highway drainage infrastructure designs are based on a more precise representation of recent weather patterns and can be reflective of any climate change trends in the historic data. It will be easily updated as new rainfall data becomes available.

The new MTO IDF curves web interface tool is in the final stages of completion. The release of this tool is expected in October 2010. A Highway Design Bulletin will announce the effective date when the new IDF Curve tool can be used for the design of MTO highway projects.

Highways During Rainfall

Highways During Rainfall

Figure 5: Highways during a rainfall event.

The interface tool is being made available through the MTO Internet website at as well as on the Provincial Highway Management, Drainage and Hydrology Intranet Page.

For more information, please contact:

Hani Farghaly, Senior Engineer, Hydrotechnical Design, Highway Standards Branch, at (905)704-2244 or at

or Muhammad Naeem, Drainage Systems Engineer, Highway Standards Branch, at (905) 704-2402 or at

Technology That Takes Root
Innovative Micropiles Successful at Scugog River

Illustration of Micropile installation

Illustration of Micropile installation

Illustration of root piles (Source: The History of Micropiles in. North America. April 3-4, 2008. Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Donald A. Bruce, GEOSYSTEMS, LP presentation.)

Illustration of root piles (Source: The History of Micropiles in. North America. April 3-4, 2008. Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Donald A. Bruce, GEOSYSTEMS, LP presentation.)

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has completed its first successful use of micropiles as the preferred design and construction alternative in a recent bridge project. Micropiles were installed to support the pier foundations and to address local challenges with the widening of the Highway 7/Scugog River Bridge, west of Highway 35 near Lindsay.

The existing three-span Scugog River Bridge, built in 1958, was widened by approximately 10 metres to the north, to accommodate four lanes of Highway 7 traffic across the Scugog River. Site challenges to widening included: construction in the river which is approximately 2 metres deep; maintaining the integrity of the existing bridge pier foundations during construction; and, the installation of foundations through 5 metres of a deposit of dense to very dense sands and gravels containing boulders and cobbles overlying limestone bedrock. The project also required scour protection at the pier foundations. These conditions precluded the use of spread footings, and driven or augered piles that are normally used to support MTO bridges.

The design team of MTO staff in the Pavements and Foundations Section and Eastern Region; the Prime Consultant, Morrison Hershfield; and the Foundation Engineering sub-consultant, Peto MacCallum, worked closely reviewing foundation alternatives. Due to the subsurface and site conditions, the team selected micropiles as the preferred solution to support the piers in the water and to minimize the risk to the existing bridge during construction. Micropiles provided several installation advantages:

Micropile installation offshore at west pier. Micropiles were drilled five metres into the bedrock.

Micropile installation offshore at west pier. Micropiles were drilled five metres into the bedrock.

The cofferdam being dewatered and cleaned. Micropiles were installed within a cofferdam. Following the micropile installation, a tremie concrete plug was placed beneath the water. The cofferdam was then dewatered and cleaned prior to the concreting of the pier.

The cofferdam being dewatered and cleaned. Micropiles were installed within a cofferdam. Following the micropile installation, a tremie concrete plug was placed beneath the water. The cofferdam was then dewatered and cleaned prior to the concreting of the pier.

  • Cause minimal disturbance to adjacent structures, soil, and the environment.
  • Superior in access-restrictive environments and in all soil types and ground conditions.
  • May be installed at any angle below the horizontal
  • Allow the use of smaller equipment.

A micropile is constructed by drilling a small diameter borehole typically less than 300 mm. Reinforcement steel is placed in the drilled shaft followed by tremie grouting Micropiles get their load carrying capacity from the bond between the grout in the micropile and the rock. Due to the method of installation, there is minimal disturbance and vibration to adjacent structures. The installation methodology is also environmentally friendly.

Conceived in Italy in the early 1950's, micropiles were described as "pali radici" or root piles. The term "root piles" is explained by the shape of the foundation which usually consists of bundles of piles diverging at various angles and resembling tree roots.

For the Scugog River Bridge project, Geo-Foundations were retained by the Prime Contractor, Dufferin Construction, to supply, install and test the micropiles. Micropile installation commenced in November of 2009.

Pre-production and production load testing were specified to verify the load carrying strength of the micropiles. The pre-production load testing was conducted on land adjacent to the river prior to the full scale micropile installation. The production load testing was conducted on one micropile per pier. Both tests verified the load carrying strength of the micropiles.

One micropile per pier was subjected to a production testing to verify the capacity of the micropile.

One micropile per pier was subjected to a production testing to verify the capacity of the micropile.

A controlled sequence of construction was required to install the pier foundation within the river and to avoid what is known as basal heave at the base of the excavation for the pier footing during any dewatering. A temporary cofferdam box was installed by driving interlocking steel sheet piles to a prescribed depth in the river bed. The sand and gravel were excavated within the cofferdam under water and the micropiles were drilled. A 600 mm concrete plug on top of the piles was constructed by tremie pumping concrete under water within the cofferdam. This prevented the base from heaving and also provided a working platform. Water within the cofferdam was then pumped out and the pier was constructed on the micropile foundation.

On the Scugog River project, a total of 19 micropiles were installed for each of the two piers in the river. With limited access in the river and because of the smaller diameter (273 mm diameter) borehole, smaller equipment installed the micropiles. Some of the piles were installed vertically and others were installed at an angle through the very dense sands, gravels and boulders. They were socketted approximately five metres into the limestone bedrock.

A settlement monitoring program verified that the existing bridge remained stable during the construction of the micropiles. Settlement pins (13 mm steel bolts) were embedded into the existing piers and conventional surveying revealed little or no movement of the existing bridge during construction.

The contractor completed the installation of the micropiles by mid February and enabled in water pier construction to be completed prior to the Department of Fisheries deadline of April 1, 2010.

The measurable success of this technology on the Hwy 7/Scugog River project has demonstrated that micropiles are a viable alternative to excavation, driven or augered piles for foundations. Micropiles met the technical demands and will be considered during the design of other foundations in the future.

For more information, contact Tony Sangiuliano, Materials Engineering and Research Office, at (416) 235-5267 or or (416) 235-5267.

[November 2010] As an introduction to MTOs measured implementation of the Design-Build concept, the August 2010 Road Talk article covered general concepts of Design-Build. Read our August 2010 article on the cost, timing and quality benefits of Design-Build here.

The Evolution of Design-Build
Ontario's Design-Build Models

Design-Build is the process by which a single entity provides both the design and construction through the use of a single contract between a road authority and a contractor.

Design-Build is the process by which a single entity provides both the design and construction through the use of a single contract between a road authority and a contractor.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is supplementing its contract delivery toolbox by implementing Design-Build (DB) contracts to help deliver its expanding capital program. DB is used in highway construction in both the United States and Canada, but over the next three to four years, MTO intends to become a leader in the area of DB by implementing its own performance-based specifications on all suitable DB contracts.

Conventional Design-Bid-Build vs. MTO Design-Build Model

Most of what the industry uses today to build roads in North America and Europe is a Design-Bid-Build (DBB) methodology. DBB involves the use of two separate service providers; one to perform the design and another to perform construction of a project.

Traditional and current MTO delivery practices include the DBB tendering and contracting process. As the use of DB evolves at MTO, appropriate contracts will be identified as appropriate for the DB method. However, MTO is developing its own DB philosophy that differs from conventional DB methods.

The two defining differences in MTO's DB model are the requirement for a longer performance warranty, typically five years, compared to the typical two-year industry standard for DB contracts; and MTO's focus on performance targets, leaving many of the prescriptive elements of a contract to the discretion of the contractor. For example, the DB contract will include the preliminary design, detailed scope, highway alignment details, and performance requirements, but will refrain as much as possible from specifying the materials and construction methodology to be used by the DB contractor. Once the contract is underway, MTO will conduct a review of the design, some key milestone inspections as needed, and performance tests at completion and during the warranty period to ensure contractor conformance. MTO also has an intervention process in place when contractors are in "non conformance". This provides incentives for contractors to self monitor and deign and build it right the first time.

How MTO Considers Projects for DB Contract Model Suitability

MTO's DB vision includes a list of criteria to identify appropriate projects . Depending on their level of complexity, identified DB projects may be designated as "Design-Build Minor" or "Design-Build Major".

  • DB Minor projects are smaller and simpler, identified as low risk, low complexity projects, such as minor rehabilitation not affected by encumbrances (e.g. property, utilities, or environmental issues). DB Minor projects generally cost less than $10M and are likely completed in one construction season.
  • DB Major projects are more complex and include large rehabilitation, reconstruction or expansion projects. They have a construction value of less than $100M and can span multiple construction seasons.

Experience of other jurisdictions

Based upon the results of a US Federal Highway Authority (FWHA) study, the DB delivery approach has proven to be successful among the majority of state DOTs and Transportation agencies that have implemented Design/Build contracts.

FWHA survey respondents managing DB projects almost unanimously indicated that they prefer the DB method for appropriate project types. Quantitative data on the results of DB is somewhat difficult to obtain, but on average the respondents indicate that DB reduced project delivery time by 14% and decreased total project costs by an average of 3% in comparison to Design-Bid-Build while maintaining the same level of quality.

Development of the MTO Design-Build Models

Design-Build contracting and multi-year warranties have been gradually introduced at the ministry. Some DB elements were tested during MTO's contract re-engineering era of the mid-1990's and on the seven-year pavement projects of 2006. These contracts represent significant first steps in MTO's approach toward the development of a full complement of performance-based specifications for highway construction.

MTO has engaged industry partners during the development of the DB models to allow them to better understand the principles of the models and performance based specifications, to mitigate risks, and to incrementally improve the model over time.

The Future of MTO Design Build Applications

Starting in 2010, MTO established a target to deliver one or two DB Minor projects in each region. As of September 1st, seven contracts have been tendered with one currently in the award process. The first contact was awarded in Northeastern Region, and involved expansion joint replacements for a bridge in Cochrane. The remaining three contract awards were for structural and non-structural culvert replacements in Eastern, West and Central regions. The project currently in the award process is for the replacement of noise barrier panels. The projects for 2010 were all low dollar value, low complexity projects, allowing MTO to test the model with minimal risk. It is expected that each of MTO's regions may have 3-4 projects per year suitable for DB Minor.

In August, 2010, the Contract Innovations Office hosted an internal DB Major Information and Planning Workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to learn from the experiences of other leading jurisdictions and establish some basic principles for the further development of DB Major. Jay Hietpas, from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, shared MnDOT's experiences with DB over the past decade, including the award winning replacement of the I35 Bridge after its collapse in 2007. Bruce McAllister, from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, provided a candid and informative summary of some of the key challenges and success factors that he has witnessed in his 18 years of experience with DB in B.C., including complex projects such as the Kicking Horse Canyon Bridge and the reconstruction of the Sea to Sky Highway in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Several issues/considerations key to the development of the MTO's DB Major program were covered during focus groups discussion. Decisions reached during the workshop will set the foundation as MTO develops contract documents in anticipation of tendering a limited number of DB Major contracts starting in 2011.

For more information, please contact:

Brenda Liegler, Contract Innovations Engineer, at (613) 544-2220 ext 1758 or at

Critter Crossings
Wildlife Protection Initiatives

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) strives to continually improve highway safety throughout Ontario for motorists, including ways to prevent or discourage wild animals from entering roadways and colliding with vehicles. Over the past few years, MTO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), has developed and implemented various wildlife protection initiatives across the province.

Since collisions with wild animals can result in serious vehicle damage, personal injury or even death, MTO has implemented several preventive measures to warn or aid drivers and help keep animals from wandering onto the road, including:

  • Installing fencing along major highways
  • Removing roadside brush to improve roadside visibility
  • Draining salty ponds beside highways to avoid attracting wildlife
  • Posting warning signs where there is a history of wildlife collision
  • Installing highway lighting to improve visibility at night
This wildlife structure, the first of its kind in Ontario, uses the combination of wildlife fencing and a bridge which crosses the highway overhead.

This wildlife structure, the first of its kind in Ontario, uses the combination of wildlife fencing and a bridge which crosses the highway overhead.

MTO has constructed wildlife crossings – or has included wildlife crossings in design considerations – to ensure habitat connectivity when fencing prohibits animal access to the highway. Three such examples are:

Overhead Crossing for Wildlife

As part of the Highway 69 four-laning project, a wildlife bridge has been constructed in an area known to have a high rate of large mammal collisions on the existing highway, 1 km north of Highway 637, in the Burwash area.

The concept of the project is to maintain animal movements without impacting traffic. Fencing along the highway right-of-way on both sides is intended to funnel animals to a bridge crossing. The wildlife bridge was designed as a 30 metre "land" bridge crossing over the future four-lane Highway 69. It will be landscaped with trees, shrubs, brush, rock piles, etc. providing a natural environment to encourage wildlife use. Furthermore, the landscaping will provide a visual buffer to highway traffic.

The wildlife crossing will be accessible for use by animals by the fall of 2010. As a first in Ontario, a monitoring program will commence once the crossing has opened and will continue for the next few years to assess its use through animal track counts and video imagery.

For more information on the Highway 69 Overhead Wildlife Bridge, please contact: Heather Garbutt, Senior Transportation Environmental Planner, Planning & Environmental Section, Provincial Highway Management, Northeastern Region at (705) 497-5205 or at

Turtle Crossing and Barriers

The turtle crossing uses an elliptical culvert.

The turtle crossing uses an elliptical culvert.

Anti-glare mesh/screen is used as a turtle barrier/fence to restrict turtle movement onto the roadway.

Anti-glare mesh/screen is used as a turtle barrier/fence to restrict turtle movement onto the roadway.

An artificial turtle nesting habitat made of fine crushed stone, sand, and gravel.

An artificial turtle nesting habitat made of fine crushed stone, sand, and gravel.

In fall 2009, turtle protection measures were installed north of the Village of Caledon, as part of the Highway 10 widening project. To mitigate turtle mortality and promote environmental sustainability through the protection and conservation of wildlife, MTO, in consultation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, designed and implemented an under-road wildlife crossing, a barrier system, and artificial nesting habitat.

Turtle Crossing: Similar to a pipe culvert design for fish crossings (below), the turtle crossing uses an elliptical culvert. The top ends of the culvert have been cut to maximize the amount of light in the culvert, helping to attract wildlife through the culvert. A mesh screen is attached around the area of the culvert opening to prevent turtles from climbing onto the roadway.

Turtle Barrier/Fence: Studies have shown that turtles can climb fences. Anti-glare mesh/screen is used as a turtle barrier/fence to restrict turtle movement onto the roadway. The turtle fence is affixed directly onto the highway fence, and funnels/directs the turtles to the culvert installed underneath the highway. At the North Credit River Bridge, a total of 1028 m of turtle fence was installed. Though the fence is 1 m high, it features a 200 mm 90 degree bend on top that will prevent turtles from climbing and accessing the right-of-way.

Turtle Nesting Habitat: In addition to mitigating the loss of turtles on the highway, MTO and MNR have developed an artificial turtle nesting habitat made of fine crushed stone, sand, and gravel. The habitat was constructed at the ends of the turtle crossing to provide an area for turtle egg laying. This habitat attracts turtles to the crossing due to it's exposure to the sun.

To evaluate the turtle crossing system, a monitoring program will begin in the spring of 2011. Monitoring will continue for the next two years.

For more information on Turtle Crossings, please contact: Luis Orantes, Environmental Planner, Planning & Environment Office, Central Region at (416) 235-3852 or

Gravity Pipe Design Policy with Fish Crossings

Substrate placement inside a culvert for safe fish travel.

Substrate placement inside a culvert for safe fish travel.

In 2007, MTO launched the new and improved Gravity Pipe Design policy. As of 2010, these guidelines are being applied to all design assignments for new gravity pipes installed on Ontario's provincial highways. Under these guidelines, designers are required to consider fish habitat when installing culverts/pipes across or along highways.

A key consideration in the design of pipe culvert crossings is to avoid creating a barrier to fish traveling in either direction of water flow. Culvert designs are required to incorporate fish ladders or baffles when flow velocities are too strong for fish to swim. To provide the right flow velocities for fish travel, one solution is to place natural stream substrate material into a low flow channel.

For more information about the Gravity Pipe Guidelines and their use for Fish Crossings, please review Road Talk, Volume 16, Issue 2, A New Era for Gravity Pipes

In some wildlife/vehicle collision hot spots, MTO has installed preventive roadside systems, either to deter animals or to detect their presence and warn drivers.

Deer Reflectors

Strieter-Lite. deer reflectors installed on an 800 m stretch of Highway 540.

Strieter-Lite. deer reflectors installed on an 800 m stretch of Highway 540.

In August 2007, on a section of Highway 540 east of Pleasant Valley Road, on Manitoulin Island in Northeastern Ontario, MTO installed highway reflectors intended to discourage deer from crossing into oncoming traffic.

The reflector system works by installing reflector posts along both sides of the road staggered at 10m intervals. Each reflector face consists of 70 small curved mirrors that reflect headlight glare between dusk and dawn when deer are most active. As a vehicle approaches, headlight glare intensifies, and is reflected by the posts. The light refracted from the reflectors, coupled with the sound of oncoming traffic, is intended to discourage deer from crossing the road until the vehicles have passed. Due to the post angle and distance from the highway, motorists are not distracted by the reflected light.

The ministry is still collecting data for the trial from traffic statistics, which has been slow to come due to the low volume of traffic on the test section of Highway 540 and the brief, 1.5 kilometre length of the trial area.

For more information about this Deer Reflectors, please review Road Talk, Volume 14, Issue 1, Highway 540 Deer Reflectors

Large Animal (Moose/Deer) Detection and Warning System

The Large Animal Detection/ Warning System's sign with flashing light.

The Large Animal Detection/ Warning System's sign with flashing light.

In November 2009, MTO installed Ontario's first wildlife detection and warning system on a stretch of Highway 17, north of Sault Ste. Marie. The Mile Hill area is known as a high wildlife collision area with numerous reports of collisions, usually with deer and moose. In an effort to reduce these incidents, a detection system was installed at the bottom of Mile Hill, extending northerly for approximately 1.5 km.

This system automatically monitors the highway right of way year round by using infrared beams powered with solar panels and back-up batteries. When the unit's sensors are activated by a large animal, a flashing beacon subsequently warns drivers to reduce speed and be extra vigilant for the presence of wildlife.

As a pilot project, MTO will spend at least two to three years evaluating the results and determine the feasibility of installing similar systems in other parts of the province.

For more information about this Large Animal Detection and Warning System project, please review Road Talk, Volume 16, Issue 3, Driving in Harmony with Wildlife.

MTO will continue to partner with MNR to develop and assess wildlife protection projects, in order to provide a sustainable, safe environment for both motorists and wildlife for years to come.

Not Just for Coffee Cups!
Innovative Embankment Design Using Styrofoam Blocks on Hwy 69

Employees of Teranorth Construction, a subcontractor working for Pioneer Construction, align expanded polystyrene blocks (EPS) as embankment fill behind the bridge abutments.

Employees of Teranorth Construction, a subcontractor working for Pioneer Construction, align expanded polystyrene blocks (EPS) as embankment fill behind the bridge abutments.

Approximately 10,000 m3 of expanded polystyrene blocks (EPS) were placed over an 8 week period in May to July, 2009.

Approximately 10,000 m3 of expanded polystyrene blocks (EPS) were placed over an 8 week period in May to July, 2009.

Highway 69 is a major north-south link between Parry Sound and Sudbury, Ontario. In the fall of 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) opened a new section of four-lane Highway 69 between Estaire and Sudbury to better connect southern and northern Ontario population centres.

This particular section of highway intersects the Canadian National Railway. To carry Highway 69 over the railroad tracks, twin four-span bridges were constructed, each approximately 150 m long. At the north approaches to the bridges, expanded polystyrene (EPS) blocks were used to reduce roadway settlement and to limit the lateral pile movements on the foundation of the bridge.

During the detailed design, it was determined that the subsoils at the north approaches were comprised of deep deposits of compressible silty clay. The weight of conventional earth or rock fills as approach embankment fills would have caused both short and long term settlements of these native soils. These settlements would result in pavement distortions, leading to a "bumpy ride" in the approach to the bridge. In addition, forces known as "downdrag" caused by the relative movement of the approach embankment fill and the steel piles driven to bedrock that support the bridge abutments, would cause distress on the bridge abutment.

To achieve the performance requirements for the bridge and roadway at the approaches, the design team selected EPS blocks as the best solution for constructing under existing soil conditions. EPS blocks are less than 1% the weight of conventional earth fills; on this project, they reduced the magnitude of embankment stress on the native soils at the bridge abutment approaches from approximately 120 kPa to about 10 kPa. In addition to its lightweight attributes, EPS has strength and durability that makes the material suitable for embankment fills. EPS is also an inert material and consequently, environmentally friendly.

Following a subexcavation of 1.8 m below the original ground level, the EPS blocks were placed on a 300 mm thick granular 'A' levelling pad used as a base course. The EPS blocks, shaped in rectangular prisms ranging from 610 mm x 2440 mm x 700 mm to 1220 mm x 2440 mm x 1000 mm, were lifted by a backhoe and then placed by hand in horizontal layers for the width of the embankment. The blocks were then covered with polyethylene sheeting and a concrete slab before backfilling the slopes with earth fill, the pavement subbase and base above the concrete slab.

It took approximately 8 weeks between May and July of 2009 to complete the EPS installation. During this period, approximately 10,000 m3 or over 5600 blocks of EPS were installed with a production rate of approximately 140 blocks per day.

The application of expanded polystyrene on the Highway 69/CN demonstrates another use of innovation to solve problems associated with embankment settlement adjacent to a bridge structure. On this project, the EPS design illustrated a successful partnership between the Prime Consultant (Totten Sims Hubicki), the Foundations Engineering subonsultant (Thurber), the Pavements and Foundations Section of the MTO Materials Engineering and Research Office and MTO Northeastern Region, including its Planning and Design, Structural Section and Construction offices.

For more information regarding this application of EPS, contact Tony Sangiuliano, Materials Engineering and Research Office, at (416) 235-5267 or

For more information on Highway 69 four-laning, visit:

 The west end of the carpool lot paved with rubber modified asphalt.

The west end of the carpool lot paved with rubber modified asphalt.

Not Just a Pretty Face
A new carpool lot with environmental benefits and aesthetic appeal

A new Ministry of Transportation (MTO) carpool parking lot, constructed in November 2010, incorporates the ministry's sustainable transportation goals by encouraging carpooling and using new methods to create a "green" site. The carpool lot is located at Ontario Street in Beamsville, beside the Queen Elizabeth Highway, a major freeway connecting Toronto and the Niagara Peninsula in Southern Ontario. The parking lot features a test section of Rubber Modified Asphalt and four bioretention cells, which make the new carpool lot environmentally friendly as well as aesthetically pleasing.

Rubber Modified Asphalt is a combination of ground, scrap rubber tires and conventional hot mix asphalt that has potential to divert used tires from stockpiles. MTO has over three decades of experience using recycled scrap tires in asphalt and has made progressive advancements in developing a cost effective and environmentally beneficial product.

Bioretention cells in the Ontario Street carpool site appear as slight depressions containing mulch and vegetation in the landscaped area of the parking lot. The mulch acts as a filter to remove pollutants such as metals, variable nutrients, and phosphorous, improving run off water quality. Vegetation at the site consists of trees, plants and bushes that increase the visual appeal of the parking lot by adding colour and character, and reducing the harsh look of the cityscape. The presence of a drain and grate, located beneath the mulch and vegetation, improve the drainage capacity of the parking lot.

Bioretention cells, with drainage system and testing pipes, during construction at the QEW and Ontario lot.

Bioretention cells, with drainage system and testing pipes, during construction at the QEW and Ontario lot.

Bioretention cells, with drainage system and testing pipes, during construction at the QEW and Ontario lot.

The University of Guelph has partnered with the ministry to collect, research, and analyze data from the bioretention cells and report annually until project completion in 2013. The University's final report will be posted to MTO's Research Library. To assess the performance of the bioretention cells, the University will:

  1. Create a methodology and testing program;
  2. Measure the water quality;
  3. Assess the performance of the bioretention system;
  4. Compare the performance over the three years and throughout the seasons; and
  5. Recommend future MTO application of the bioretention systems.

Monitoring of bioretention cells is intended to determine the extent of their environmental benefits and effectiveness. The University of Guelph will use the results to refine the designs of the bioretention cells to further improve drainage capacity and reduce waste matter released to the environment. It is anticipated that the results will also be used in the future implementation of standard bioretention cell designs.

In addition to meeting the ministry's sustainable transportation goals, the carpool lot project was a successful collaboration as well. MTO project manager, Kyle Perdue, noted the following elements that characterized the project's partnership: positive support from ministry colleagues and Materials Engineering and Research Office staff; the Contractor's cooperation; and, the University of Guelph's enthusiasm for an additional test site for data.

Trees planted around the perimeter of the carpool lot.

Trees planted around the perimeter of the carpool lot.

 A bioretention cell at the centre of the bus loop, at the Ontario Street carpool lot.

A bioretention cell at the centre of the bus loop, at the Ontario Street carpool lot.

At present, the ministry is limiting the use of bioretention cells for carpool lots. If results from the three year study are favourable, bioretention cells could become more widespread and future locations could include cells adjacent to highway right-of-ways. Municipalities may adopt bioretention cells for drainage of commercial and residential establishments.

The ministry continues to monitor advancements in tire recycling technology and innovative ways to recycle tires into pavements. Rubber Modified Asphalt is one of MTO's green innovations.

For more information on rubber modified asphalt, please contact: Seyed Tabib, Senior Bituminous Engineer, Bituminous Section, Provincial Highways Management, Highway Standards Branch, at (416) 235-3544 or at

For more information on bioretention cells, please contact: Kyle Perdue, Engineer in Training, Provincial Highways Management, Highway Standards Branch, at (416) 235-3864 or at

PLC concrete being discharged for the November 2009, QEW barrier wall trial.

PLC concrete being discharged for the November 2009, QEW barrier wall trial.

Finishing the surface of slipformed PLC concrete pavement on Highway 401, September 2010.

Finishing the surface of slipformed PLC concrete pavement on Highway 401, September 2010.

PLC concrete pavement being placed by slipform paving machine.

PLC concrete pavement being placed by slipform paving machine.

Green Concrete
Using Portland Limestone Cement

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is partnering with University of Toronto and Holcim (Canada) Inc., to investigate the performance of Portland Limestone Cement (PLC) in field trials. PLC is a new class of cement which contains up to 15% limestone in place of Portland cement clinker.

Concrete is the most widely used human-made substance on Earth, but the production of cement for use in concrete releases significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Production of one tonne of cement creates approximately one tonne of CO2 through emissions from fuel burning and breakdown of raw materials on heating during the production of Portland cement clinker.

As "green" construction is becoming increasingly important, the cement and concrete industries are seeking ways to reduce their energy consumption and environmental footprint. This product may assist them with reduction of greenhouse gases as well as promote sustainability and innovation.

PLC was introduced in 2008 in Canadian Standard Association's Cementing Materials Compendium (CSA A3000-08). Though PLC is not yet available commercially in Canada, the committee responsible for the Canadian Standard for concrete took initiative and included it in their standard CSA A23.1, in 2009, to support its future use.

PLC is produced by intergrinding Portland cement clinker and limestone. The use of limestone to replace a portion of Portland cement is estimated to result in up to 10% reduction in the amount of CO2 generated during cement production. In addition, cement manufacturers claim that since production of PLC requires less limestone compared to conventional cement, its production has a reduced impact on natural resources. PLC has the potential to provide additional benefits in greenhouse gas reduction, beyond the current practice of replacing a portion of Portland cement with by-products from other industries such as ground granulated blast furnace slag (slag) or fly ash. Industry studies show that when the PLC is properly optimized by the cement manufacturer, compressive strength and durability of the concrete can be maintained. Although not a "cement", finely ground limestone can contribute to development of a concrete's microstructure to improve particle packing and provide nucleation sites for cement hydration. While the physical properties of limestone cements are well-established in Europe, the trials are intended to provide an opportunity to observe performance of locally produced PLC in the aggressive Ontario environment.

MTO performed two trials on existing contracts using Holcim cement in Central Region. These were the first field trials of the new cement in structural and pavement applications by a public agency in Canada. The first trial performed in November 2009, used PLC in a cast-in-place concrete barrier wall section, located on the westbound QEW between Brant St. and Burloak Drive. Given the favourable outcome, it was followed by a second trial in September 2010 using PLC in slipformed concrete pavement on the eastbound Highway 401 exit lane to Hurontario Street. Locations of the trial sections allow future access for visual assessment and coring for long term monitoring. The project also included control sections using traditional concrete.

The University of Toronto and Holcim (Canada) Inc. in cooperation with MTO developed a testing and monitoring protocol, and agreed to share data. Test specimens were prepared for assessment by University of Toronto and MTO of early age and long term physical properties of the test and control concrete. The trial installations continue to be monitored by MTO and University of Toronto researchers working with Holcim. The barrier wall test site will be monitored by the University of Toronto until the summer of 2011 and the pavement will be monitored until the spring of 2013. MTO will continue monitoring after those dates.

Testing was extensive and included durability in freeze-thaw conditions, shrinkage, permeability and strength gain. Thermocouple wires were installed in each trial and control sections, to monitor concrete temperature and ambient air temperature for 7 days from the time of placement.

The results to date are positive and indicate that the performance of concrete made with PLC is comparable to that of traditional Portland cement concrete. This is promising for future application on MTO contracts.

For more information, contact: Jana Konecny, Senior Concrete Engineer, Concrete Section, Highway Standards Branch at (416) 235 3711 or at

OR: Hannah Schell, Manager, Concrete Section, Highway Standards Branch at (416) 235 3708 or at

Watch a short video about the Portland Limestone Concrete pavement trial on the MTO website, where transcripts are also available.

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