As the Executive Director of the Corrugated Steel Pipe Institute (CSPI), I must admit to being biased.

But, that’s principally because during my 30+ years in the pipe and bridge industry, I’ve learned an awful lot about the unpredictable performance and cost of various construction materials. As a Canadian taxpayer, my only bias is trying to ensure that our governments are getting the best bang to optimize the return on each and every one of my tax dollars.

Therefore, I expect our provincial transportation departments and municipalities to choose the most cost effective material for their projects provided the chosen materials meet service life requirements and comply with current government standards.  Unfortunately, that does not always happen in our great Country.  During my long tenure in the industry, I have seen various materials unfairly shunned and rejected out of hand – without a proper hearing – due to the ingrained misperceptions and biased opinions among well-meaning decision makers within the public service. All materials whether they be steel, concrete or plastic have attributes and should be considered.

When I joined this industry in the 1980’s Galvanize was the material choice for CSP. Since its introduction in Canada in 1908, it had consistently performed well; over the years, however, ongoing vagaries of the environment triggered significant changes in the chemistry of our soils and waterways.  Consequently, new, high metallic and polymer coatings for CSP were developed and introduced to combat new threats resulting from this changing nature, including: soft waters; uneven PH ranges; low resistivity readings: and high chloride levels. These specialty coatings have served to extend the acceptance of CSP for solutions in environments where galvanized is prohibited.

In retrospect, one might logically conclude that the acceptance of coated CSP products into a broader range of environments has been a slam dunk. Far from it. In fact, in some Canadian municipalities, neither CSP nor HDPE are considered in pipe tenders. For the municipality in which I reside, it remains an ongoing struggle to find our products in the tenders for storm sewers and storm water management systems. Yet, just down the street from my house, a 40 year-old storm sewer was recently ripped out and replaced with the same material, with no consideration whatsoever given to the viability of alternative material solutions.

Moreover, on a recent bridge tender for a municipality which I will not name, Structural Plate Corrugated Steel (SCSP) would have provided $500,000 dollars in savings versus other materials being considered. Both options would supply the desired 75-year material service life, thus apples to apples comparison. With numerous installations across North America since 1930, SPCS is a proven and prudent option for buried bridges. In fact, on average SPCS installations yield an average of 46% savings on arches and 38% on boxes; yet, SPCS was eliminated from the competition by a biased opinion.  Would you like to live in such a municipality, where there is taxation without representation?  My own property taxes are set to increase by 3% in 2017, yet inflation is barely more than 1%.
I think I know why.

The solution? All relevant construction materials need to be considered and public engineering departments need to open up their minds to learn more about today’s CSP products, whenever specifications of a material/ product meet accepted standards. Only then, will the taxpayer see true savings and be taxed at an appropriate rate.

For a copy of the Performance Guideline for CSP, click the Link

Ray Wilcock
Executive Director