St. Peters Canal bridge repaired for boaters after 3 days of being stuck closed

The bridge that goes over the canal had been stuck in the closed position since late Friday afternoon and was reopened Tuesday.

Bridge over canal stuck in closed position since late Friday afternoon, repair crew arrived Tuesday

The bridge over the canal became stuck in the closed position late Friday afternoon. A repair crew arrived Tuesday and the bridge reopened. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Some boaters in Nova Scotia became frustrated that their long weekend became longer than expected.

The bridge that goes over the St. Peters Canal on Cape Breton's Route 4 became stuck in the closed position on Friday afternoon and it was only fixed on Tuesday morning. 

The bridge carries a lot of traffic between Port Hawkesbury and Sydney, and swings open to allow tall power boats and sailboats with masts to take the canal from the Atlantic Ocean into the south basin of the Bras d'Or Lake.

Last year, the 80-year-old one-lane swing bridge was replaced with a $16-million, two-lane span.

Working well until now

Gerry Gibson, the St. Peter's Lions Marina manager, said the new bridge went through a few early growing pains, but it's been working well, until now.

"The first month or so there was some minor glitches, and they had people on there all the time to look after it," he said.

"So minor delays is something that's going to happen all the time. But there should be no way a delay that goes on for four or five days on the bridge."

Boaters waiting

There's no way to know exactly how many boaters were affected, said Gibson. But some boaters had been docked at the marina while waiting for the bridge to be repaired, and others moored elsewhere in the Bras d'Or.

Gibson said others have called and said they are turning back and chose not to come into the Bras d'Or Lake because they were unsure when the bridge would be fixed and they'd be able to get out.

The marina relies on sales of fuel and supplies, and the bridge issue is taking its toll, he said.

"It's having a major impact on our economy in St. Peter's and in the Bras d'Or Lakes, and it's going to hurt me the rest of the summer, as well," Gibson said.

No one from Parks Canada communications was available Monday to comment.

Robbie Mann, the Parks Canada lockmaster, said he was not authorized to comment, but he said the bridge had been closed since later Friday afternoon. He said he expected repairs to begin on the bridge on Tuesday morning. 

By noon, the bridge had been reopened.

Repairs began Tuesday

Mann said up to 30 boats have contacted him about the inconvenience.

A couple of boaters who had been stuck in St. Peter's said staff at the marina and the canal were "fantastic."

Roberto Sani, a sailor with the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron out of Halifax, said it cost him $100 a day to wait at the marina.

Not only that, but he and his partner wanted to get back to Halifax for work.

Sani said some boaters paid the cost of mooring their boats and got on a shuttle when they were told it was uncertain how long it could take to repair the bridge.

Some travelled through ocean to get out

Others chose to sail north to get to the Atlantic Ocean through the Great Bras d'Or or Little Bras d'Or channels, but that added at least a day to their travel time.

"Some people have just left the boat and went back to Halifax, and some are contemplating going over the top, but the rest of us are just sitting and hoping," Sani said Monday.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 32 years. He has spent the last 14 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.