The New Brunswick government will replace the Saint-Louis-de-Kent Bridge in Kent County, Transportation Minister Claude Williams announced on Friday.

The current wooden bridge in the eastern village is 69 years old and has had a weight restriction of five tonnes in place since September 2011, meaning only cars and pick-up trucks can cross it.

"A new structure is needed for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods on Route 134 over the Kouchibouguacis River," Williams said in a statement.

The new 200-metre-long bridge will be built adjacent to the existing one, but will be higher due to a predicted rise in the sea level, he said.

Shrine will be protected


The religious shrine in Saint-Louis-de-Kent was built in the 1870s and attracts tourists to the village. (CBC)

Protection of a nearby historic religious shrine will be "a priority," said Williams.

"In fact, the work we are planning to do includes improved access," he said, noting the department has had ongoing consultations with the village about the project.

Earlier this year, some residents expressed concerns that a new bridge could damage the shrine, which was built in the 1870s.

The shrine, located on a hill along the south side of the Kouchibouguacis River, attracts tourists to the village, former mayor Louis Arsenault has said.

His preference was to have a 12-kilometre detour for three years while the existing bridge was repaired, but the idea was defeated in a 3-2 vote of council.

More details about the new bridge will be released once capital budget funding is approved, the minister said.