Traffic backlogs persist in Fredericton due to bridge work
Long lineups reported again on Tuesday as northside commuters struggle to access city's 2 bridges
For the second straight day, Fredericton commuters are struggling with long lineups to get across the city's two bridges to the south side of the St. John River.
By 7:15 a.m., the lineup of vehicles on Route 105 that was trying to get on the Westmorland Street Bridge stretched past the Two Nations Crossing exit.
Meanwhile, the line of cars trying to get onto the Princess Margaret Bridge was lined up from the bridge to the intersection of Gibson and Union streets.
Darren Charters, a traffic engineer with the City of Fredericton, said steps were taken to try and lessen the traffic snarls.
"From an engineering perspective, we have really done all we can. We have made some changes to the traffic signals and things like that," he said.
"I understand [the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure] is making some changes to the traffic signals on the Princess Margaret Bridge, which should help substantially. But again it is up to the public to find an alternate source across the river."
BRIDGE WEBCAMS: Check current traffic conditions here on the city's webcams
At the root of the traffic chaos is repair work to the Westmorland Bridge, which is the main traffic artery connecting the north and south sides of the river.
To allow for repairs, traffic on the four-lane bridge has been reduced to two lanes, with all traffic shifted into the lanes on the downriver side of the bridge.
In addition, the two ramps taking traffic onto the bridge on the north side of the river are closed due to the repairs, so all vehicles have to get on the bridge via the intersection of Maple Street and Route 105.
Some drivers have raised the possibility of adjusting the traffic flow, so that the two lanes of traffic would be southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening.
Charters said that concept was studied by city engineers but it was rejected.
"We did take a look at that and there are a lot of issues at that. It works fine in the middle of the bridge however when you get to the ramp system, it is very difficult," Charters said.
"We would have to send people down the wrong ramps, the wrong way, that type of the thing. So we did explore that, we felt this was the lesser of the two evils."
The construction on the bridge, which is the responsibility of the provincial government, is scheduled to continue until Aug. 26.
Woodside seeks evening construction
Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside said he would be speaking with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams to see what could be done to speed up the bridge work.
"I'm going to talk to the minister and see if we can't get some stuff done during the evening time, like they do in other jurisdictions with some lights and stuff to try and get the job done a little bit quicker," Woodside said.
Crews are currently working on the bridge from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on most days, said an official with the Department of Transportation.
Depending on the weather and the type of work being done, some construction activity may continue later in the evening or on a Saturday.
However, there are no plans to work at night as that requires additional staff and increases costs to the contractor, according to a department official.
Atlantic Underground Services of Riverview is the contractor for the bridge project. The $4.3-million project includes $950,000 for paving on Devonshire Drive.
The bridge was opened in 1982 and is used by approximately 51,000 vehicles a day.