A contract worth $1.7 million has been awarded to fix the aging lift bridge in Placentia, effectively giving government more time to figure out how to replace the crumbling structure.

Land and Sea Welding Ltd. won the tender for repairs to the Sir Ambrose Shea Bridge, the Department of Transportation and Works announced.

The work should help extend the life of the bridge, which is almost 50 years old.

Heavier vehicles have been restricted from crossing the bridge after an inspection in February revealed serious structural problems.

"By engaging in these repairs and making substantial improvements to the road around the bridge, we are ensuring the transportation links in the region will meet the social and economic needs of residents until a new multimillion-dollar bridge is established," Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson said in a statement.

The province had put out a tender last year to replace the entire bridge, but decided not to follow through because the only bid was for $43.3 million, almost double government's estimate.

Since February, trucks weighing more than 13,000 kilograms have been barred from crossing the bridge.

"This work will restore the load capacity of the bridge to 25,000 kilograms for tandem vehicles and 37,000 kilograms for combination vehicles," Hedderson stated.

Meanwhile, the department noted it has installed a camera that provides around-the-clock surveillance of the bridge and "is capable of licence-plate recognition for enforcement purposes."