si-nb-petitcodiac-opens-220

The provincial government opened the Petitcodiac River's causeway gates in April 2010. (CBC)

The final phase of the Petitcodiac River restoration project could soon be back before Moncton city council.

Coun. Pierre Boudreau says he plans to make a motion at the Feb. 4 meeting to ask the federal government for funding to help replace the causeway with a bridge.

"The federal government has, in my opinion, not only a moral obligation to come forth with funding on this phase three and final phase of the restoration project, but they have a legal obligation to do so as well," Boudreau said.

The provincial government announced plans for a 280-metre, four-lane bridge in 2007, but said it would need federal funding to proceed.

The estimated cost, at that time, was about $68 million. Provincial officials were banking on the federal government picking up 75 per cent of that bill.

Boudreau’s comments come on the heels of a presentation Monday night by the former head of the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper organization.

Daniel Leblanc is visiting councils in the greater Moncton area, going over the organization’s renaissance plan.

Leblanc says he’s pleased with the preparation work and river monitoring that’s been done to date.

"There's more to come. And certainly, if we have to look at the width and the depth of the river, it's become wider downstream, but it's also become narrower upstream and that is a temporary measure, which will only be resolved once the partial bridge is constructed," he said.

"It's about time that this issue stops being in the backroom and really get the attention it deserves so the region here in New Brunswick can get the benefits of this restoration project."

The causeway was built with federal funding in 1968 to connect Moncton to Riverview. Its construction spurred protests and accusations that it was choking the river's tidal bore and blocking the passage of fish.

The proposed bridge would be constructed immediately downstream from the causeway, tying into the existing Findlay Boulevard and approach ramps on the Riverview side of the Petitcodiac, provincial officials have said.

With the completion of the bridge, the existing gate structure would be removed, allowing for an eventual river opening between 72 and 225 metres wide.

People who support the project say under this option the river flow will be 82 per cent of what it was before the causeway was built.

The project could take up to eight years to complete, officials have said.

When the causeway's gates were opened in April 2010, people lined up along the river's banks, some were cheering and others booed the historic event.

Some Riverview residents and fishermen lost a last-minute legal challenge to keep the causeway gates closed.