A century-old covered bridge near St. Stephen has escaped demolition and is undergoing a $350,000 restoration.

The Maxwell Crossing covered bridge was badly damaged in January when a car slammed through one of its side walls and has been closed ever since.

The historic bridge, built in 1910, is one of only 61 covered bridges left in New Brunswick.

“Residents of the area will soon have their bridge back in operation and taxpayers will benefit from the savings we have realized through the insurance agreement,” Transportation Minister Claude Williams said in a statement on Wednesday.

Due to the cost of repairs, the department had considered demolishing the bridge or replacing it with a modern, less-expensive span.

But the department just reached an agreement with TD Insurance last week, Charlotte-Campobello MLA Curtis Malloch told dozens of local residents, who gathered at the bridge on Wednesday for the announcement.

TD is paying $310,000 for damages caused by the Jan. 21 car accident, and the provincial government is kicking in another $40,000 for upgrades, he said.

'Part of our heritage'

Margaret Scott, who lives just up the road from the bridge, is pleased.

"I worked with an elderly lady who just passed recently, she was 102 years old, and she said, 'I couldn't imagine that bridge being gone, I used to go there to swim.' So really, it's a part of our heritage," said Scott.

"I mean, we all used to come here to swim," she said. "My friend and I used to travel this way for church three times a week."

The government has always recognized the historic value of the bridge, said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Trevor Holder.

“Covered bridges are an important heritage resource and a tourism draw that contributes to the character of the province," he said.

The repairs to the bridge will include: installing additional supports to stabilize the structure, increasing its load capacity to 15 tonnes; replacing truss and cross members, tension rods, roofing, and siding; reinforcing wooden members, as well as carrying out environmental protection related to the Dennis Stream waterway.

The work is expected to be completed in about 14 weeks, officials said.

Meanwhile, local residents will continue to be detoured either north or south, via Route 3 or Route 750.