West Quebec mayors fight to keep heritage bridge open
Transport Quebec shut down longest covered bridge in province due to structural concerns
The mayors of two West Quebec towns are fighting to re-open a heritage bridge after the province shut it down Tuesday over concerns it was unstable.
The red covered bridge is a landmark over the Coulonge River since 1898, linking Fort-Coulonge and Mansfield-et-Pontefract. It held the title of longest covered bridge in Quebec until it was abruptly closed to the confusion of drivers who say the detour signs don't make sense.
"I don't think somebody had their coffee in the morning when they decided to put those signs up," said Raymond Durocher, the mayor of Fort-Coulonge. "There's no way they're going to close that bridge permanently."
Kathleen Belec, the mayor of Mansfield-et-Pontefract, said the bridge attracts tourists.
"It brings in a lot. During the summer I know its over thousands of dollars for our restaurants, for our gas, for hunting and fishing. People stop here on the way and take pictures," she said.
Belec said she has many fond memories of the bridge from her youth.
"A lot of childhood memories, racing through the bridge to see who would get there faster," she said.
Lawrence Rivet, a life-long resident of Mansfield-et-Pontefract, said he can't imagine his town without "le pont rouge." He said he depends on it to get into town.
"I live right here across the road. I didn't know it was going to close," he said.