One of New Brunswick’s heritage icons is getting a 21st century facelift that will ensure it’s around for at least another 100 years.

The 391-metre Hartland Covered Bridge is getting a new driving surface — a chemical spread that will replace asphalt and ease the weight load on the 107-year-old structure.

Provincial highway engineer Norm Clouston said workers are replacing the timber deck and covering it with what’s called an epoxy polymer overlay. The new surface is lighter than asphalt.

Two sections of the bridge were coated with the chemical three years ago, he said, and now the other five sections are being done.

"It’s new to our operation. It was first applied about three years ago, and has worked out quite well for us. And, in comparison to the weight of asphalt, it’s significantly less," Clouston said Friday.

"What we’re trying to do is reinforce the bridge, but still protect its look so that, to the naked eye, it wouldn’t be as obvious that we had to do a lot of these improvements."

That means the famous longest covered bridge in the world will meet new weight-load standards, without compromising its much-photographed appearance.

The bridge over the St. John River, a major tourist attraction in the area, is closed while the work is carried out. It should reopen by mid-December.

France Bergeron and her husband, of Trois-Rivières, Que., pulled over Friday to have a look at the bridge during a visit to New Brunswick. She said they had read about it, and wanted to see it.

Even though they couldn’t drive across it, they were impressed.

"I didn’t know that it was that long. But, it’s pretty nice. It’ll be something to go through it," France Bergeron said.

The bridge was declared a National Historic Site in 1980 and a Provincial Historic Site in 1999.