Two major construction projects in Saint John have come to an indefinite halt after the contractor responsible for both of them went into receivership.
Bolton, Ont.-based Concreate USL, which was handling the Saint John Harbour Bridge refurbishment and construction of the One Mile House interchange, filed for receivership last month.
Now, the company overseeing the receivership has released both of the projects, worth a combined $110 million, back to the province and the bonding companies involved.
"The receiver will no longer be involved going forward," said Michael Creber, senior vice-president for the receiver Grant Thornton.
Concreate will not be returning to either of the Saint John projects, Creber said.
'As far as the department is concerned, we got a contract. We had a bond that protects our investment. And we took every protection measure when we issued a contract.'—Transportation Minister Claude Williams
New Brunswick Transportation Minister Claude Williams said his staff are talking to the receiver and the company holding a performance bond.
"As far as the department is concerned, we got a contract. We had a bond that protects our investment. And we took every protection measure when we issued a contract," he said.
Williams could not speculate when work would resume.
The provincial government has been paying the company on monthly basis. Both projects were scheduled to be completed by the fall.
Traffic is moving freely through both locations.
Nashwaak bridge contract 'outstanding'
Meanwhile, the Nashwaak River bridge project is considered "outstanding," according to the receiver.
Grant Thornton will continue its review of the project and expects to make a decision soon on whether to turn it back over to the provincial government as well, Creber said.
Concreate had a contract to replace Nashwaak Bridge No. 4, also known as the Durham Bridge, northeast of Fredericton. The bridge was replaced and has been open to traffic since December 2010, government officials say.
But it is still considered an open contract, court records show.
"With respect to a number of these open contracts, the build obligations under the terms of the contract have been completed. The remaining obligations relate to outstanding warranties," the documents state.
A Department of Transportation spokeswoman declined to comment.
The receiver is dealing with about 78 Concreate projects across the country.
The federal and provincial governments signed an agreement to turn the aging Saint John Harbour Bridge over to the New Brunswick government in 2010.
The federal government helped repair the bridge and forgave the Saint John Harbour Bridge Authority's outstanding debt.
The deal allowed the tolls to be removed from the bridge.
The refurbishment includes full deck rehabilitation for both the eastbound and westbound lanes and the two ramps to and from Chesley Drive, as well as new edge and median barriers and lights.
Reversing Falls Bridge work also uncertain
Saint John Mayor Ivan Court has expressed concern about what delays on the Harbour Bridge will mean for work on the Reversing Falls Bridge, which is scheduled to begin this summer.
The city has a $4-million project planned, which will allow a large pipe to bring treated drinking water to people living on the west side.
But that project can only begin when the Harbour Bridge work is finished, due to the traffic problems it will cause, Court has said.
If there are delays on the Harbour Bridge reconstruction, it might be better to put the project on hold for a while, he has said.
Meanwhile, crews have been working on the One Mile House highway interchange for nearly three years. It involves a series of overpasses that will lead to the Bayside Drive industrial area.