It will likely take up to another seven weeks before a new modular bridge can be installed along Route 114 between Riverview and Hillsborough, where a culvert washed out early this month, says Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser.
In the meantime, the department is looking at options to improve the narrow, bumpy 22-kilometre detour route, such as filling potholes and providing temporary lane markings, he said.
"I can appreciate people's frustration," said Fraser. "I get it, I understand it, I've been on the road myself. But I have to ask for their patience.
"We're doing everything we can to try to accommodate to get this two-lane modular bridge installed on the 114 so we'll have as little inconvenience as possible, especially with the upcoming tourism season."
A public meeting is being scheduled for early to mid-next week in Hillsborough to update area residents and business owners, he said.
The road has been closed to traffic since a large section near Stoney Creek collapsed March 2.
Fraser said crews had been unable to access the site because it was unstable and unsafe. There were several voids under the pavement and a large amount of water on the other side, he said.
But a boom truck arrived last week and crews were able to dig out a trench to allow the water to break free over the weekend.
"We needed to ensure that site was stable in order to get there and assess the situation properly and to make sure we could actually have the bridge put in place and have the detour route," said Fraser.
That evaluation will continue, he said.
The modular bridge, which the government had decided to acquire before the collapse, is "on its way," and "should be arriving soon."
As the former tourism minister, Fraser said he's "very much aware" of the importance of Route 114, which leads to Hopewell Rocks, Cape Enrage and Fundy National Park.
He has also travelled the detour route and acknowledges it's "not the most ideal situation. … But that's the only detour route that we have."
Crews have added signs and filled some potholes using cold patch, but much of the patchwork got plowed out during snow removal last week, he said.
They are now bringing in a hot patcher from Moncton, even though that work is not normally done until spring weather arrives.
They can't paint lines at this time of year, he said, but they have been in touch with a couple of companies that provide temporary lane markings.