The summer construction season got off to a rough start for thousands of commuters in Fredericton on Monday with delays of an hour or more reported by some trying to cross the Westmorland Street bridge from the north side of the city to the city centre on the south side.
Traffic on the four-lane Westmorland Street bridge is being reduced to two lanes through the summer to allow for repairs to the bridge.
The sidewalk on the bridge is also closed.
The bridge construction project is scheduled to continue until Aug. 26.
People were being urged to walk across the river on the Bill Thorpe walking bridge, cycle, car pool or use city transit to ease congestion.
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"While a minimum of one lane of traffic will remain being open in each direction at all times, significant traffic delays will result if motorists don't change their driving habits," stated city officials in a news release on June 19.
Significant delays did result on Monday morning. On Route 105, the line of cars waiting to get on the bridge stretched from Maple Street to Brookside Drive.
Long lines formed on Riverside Drive, Union Street, Gibson Street and other roadways when people tried to avoid the Westmorland bridge and cross the Princess Margaret Bridge instead.
Brian McKeown, a cyclist, said he was putting Monday morning's traffic congestion into perspective.
"Before the work started it was absolutely horrible. The year after they did the paving job, I could watch it crumble on a daily basis, biking to work," McKeown said.
"So, the work needs to be done. Hopefully, people will appreciate that. And then, once it's done, hopefully it will last a lot longer than it did last time."
What is normally a 10-minute drive took more than than two hours for some commuters on Monday morning.
People took to Twitter to express their frustrations about the snarled traffic on the bridge.
Easy to mock northsiders who have had 6 months to get prepared for this bridge thingy, but some folks don't have a daycare that opens at 7am— Brent Staeben (@BrentStaeben) June 23, 2014
That said, if the Walking Bridge isn't overrun w/ people on bikes tomorrow AM, people only have themselves - not PNB or the city - to blame— Brent Staeben (@BrentStaeben) June 23, 2014
Hey, @seguincbc: It took 45 minutes to go from Union/Gibson (Dixie Lee/Henry Park area) to the PM Bridge this AM for me.— Will Dickeson (@WillDickeson) June 23, 2014
“@SeanRWilkinson: Took my wife 1 hr to get fr Brookside Dr to the Westmoreland bridge! Avg time: 5min, today: 60min! The 401 all over again”— TrafficNB (@TrafficNB) June 23, 2014