New Brunswick

Province uncertain over covered bridge's future as repairs continue

There's still no clear word on when the covered bridge damaged after an excavator crashed through its floorboards will be able to re-open.

Excavator remains stuck after crashing through floorboards of Quispamsis, N.B. bridge

The Hammond River Bridge #2 remains closed after an excavator crashed through its floorboards on Oct. 5. (CBC)

Work to restore the decking on a 104-year-old covered bridge in Quispamsis was supposed to end this week, but the province is admitting it still doesn't know when the bridge will reopen.

Hammond River Bridge #2 was damaged when contractor Gary McKinney drove his 13-tonne excavator onto the 12 tonne limit bridge.

The excavator crashed through the floorboards on Oct. 5, and is still on the riverbank.

The province has been trying to secure the bridge before removing the excavator.

Support beams are now in place underneath the bridge deck to shore up the structure before removal of the excavator is attempted. (CBC)
On Friday morning, two wooden supports and a long I-beam were erected underneath.

In a written statement, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Shawn Berry said work will now continue to remove the excavator.

But a worker at the bridge said more reinforcements need to be added, with WorkSafe NB signing off before anything is removed.

He said the excavator will likely remain where it sits until late next week.

No date for deck repairs

Berry also said it's unknown when the bridge will be repaired.

"We cannot give a date as to when the bridge may be open to traffic as there needs to be further review of the bridge's condition," he wrote.

The prolonged detour and added travel time has been frustrating for many people living on the other side of the bridge.

Local resident Bonnie Kellar is worried about the 20-minute detour with the bridge closed, in case an ambulance is needed in the area. (CBC)
Bonnie Kellar said it has added an extra 20 minutes each way to her travel into town.

The loss of time and gas money has been an issue, but she's increasingly nervous about being isolated.

"I'm more worried about emergency vehicles," she said. "If an ambulance, there's a lot of people here with bad hearts and they're older and, 20 minutes could save a life."

Several others who live nearby are concerned this weekend's forecasted heavy rains will exacerbate the situation.

Many think the route could remain closed as long as December.

Kellar's mother-in-law, Gladys Kellar, could only shake her head when asked about the bridge.

She's lived in the area since 1952 and is bemused about the amount of delays to see even minute progress.

"It's all a little laughable," she said from her kitchen down the road.

now