Each year, the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), bestows the prestigious title of Fellow to twenty distinguished engineers in recognition of their excellence in engineering and their services to the profession and to society. One of this year’s honourees is Glen Patrick Carlin, CEO of Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (the Corporation).
After getting his degree in civil engineering with a specialization in geotechnics, from Carleton University, in 1978, Mr. Carlin went on to tackle many challenges in his nearly 40-year career. Over the years, he has had to innovate to find unique solutions to very complex problems. Below are some highlights from his exceptional career that show how he has used his expertise, leadership and ingenuity to make unique contributions to major infrastructure projects across Canada.
1979: JAMES BAY PROJECT
Fresh out of university, Mr. Carlin was recruited for a major undertaking: the James Bay Project, a series of Hydro-Québec hydroelectric power stations in the watershed of La Grande River and other rivers in Nord-du-Québec.
As project engineer, he contributed to the prefeasibility study for the development of hydroelectic stations on the Nottaway, Broadback and Rupert Rivers. While spending three years at an isolated exploration camp, he steadfastly assessed the project’s feasibility by analyzing the characteristics of the clay soils. His analysis work helped identify major technical issues related to the complex challenges of building dams and dikes on clay foundations.
1981: MONTREAL METRO
After his experience in Nord-du-Québec, Mr. Carlin became heavily involved in another major project: the extension of the blue line of the Montreal Metro. Inaugurated in 1966, right before Expo ‘67, the metro revolutionized transportation in Quebec. Given Mr. Carlin’s expertise in civil engineering and soil geology, the contractor responsible for extending the metro line hired him as construction engineer for the section between the Jean-Talon and Saint-Michel stations.
With a masterful hand, he oversaw all engineering aspects of the shaft and tunnel excavation. Despite the major challenges of constructing a metro line in an urban setting and having to meet very tight deadlines, he found solutions to help complete this vital work for the city’s economic and residential development.
1989: REDECKING OF THE CHAMPLAIN BRIDGE
After honing his experience in major project management for organizations across Canada, Mr. Carlin joined the Corporation in 1989. He first served as Director, Engineering and Construction, and supervised the replacement of the Champlain Bridge deck with an orthotropic steel deck—a first in Canada. This project earned him a Prix Méritas from the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec.
In 1996, he took over the reins of the Corporation as Chief Executive Officer.
1998: ICE STORM
Considered one of North America’s worst natural disasters, the January 1998 Ice Storm caused widespread power outages and major infrastructure damage and disrupted travel for millions of people. Montreal was hit particularly hard: the massive storm of freezing rain left the region in almost complete darkness for more than five days.
With calm resolve and great determination in the face of difficult conditions and with limited staff, Mr. Carlin worked hard to maintain user safety and keep critical infrastructure operational. For over four days, the Champlain and Jacques Cartier Bridges were completely closed to traffic for a complex de-icing operation. This complete closure was the longest in the Corporation’s history.
For this highly unusual procedure that came under the media spotlight, Mr. Carlin came up with resourceful measures to keep the Corporation’s infrastructure safe. With the help of the Ville de Montréal’s emergency services and the Canadian Army, Mr. Carlin and his team had both bridges de-iced in record time thanks to an ingenious solution: a vibrating plate installed on the core of each bridge.
2013: “SUPER BEAM” ON THE CHAMPLAIN BRIDGE
An inspection, in November 2013, revealed a considerable crack in one of the main beams of the Champlain Bridge and another crack in one of the beam’s anchor blocks.
Mr. Carlin immediately sent teams to analyze the situation and decided to install a 75-tonne steel “super beam” to reinforce the weakened section of the bridge. His decisive and quick reaction made the bridge safe and reassured the public until a more permanent solution was found in spring 2014.
SAFETY, MOBILITY, AND A LONG LIFESPAN
Named Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation in 2014, Mr. Carlin currently plays a crucial role in the planning and execution of major construction, repair and reinforcement work for structures that are vitally important for the city and for the Canadian economy.
Recently, he launched the full redecking project for the Honoré Mercier Bridge in collaboration with the Mohawk and Kahnawake community and its contractors. This project, which poses multiple engineering challenges, will last eight years and cost approximately $200 million.
Mr. Carlin works to ensure that the critical infrastructure under the Corporation’s responsibility remains safe, fully functional and aesthetically pleasing both today and in the future.
Every day around the world, engineers innovate and push the boundaries of knowledge a description that perfectly fits Glen P. Carlin, Eng.
“ENGINEERS MUST NOT ONLY FIND THE BEST SOLUTIONS TO CHALLENGES BUT ALSO DARE TO PUT THESE SOLUTIONS INTO MOTION.” – GLEN P. CARLIN, ENG.