Commuters forced to take ferry, find alternate routes as province cleans up flood damage
Five roads, several covered bridges remain closed
Nearly a month after flood waters peaked along the St. John River, five roads and several of New Brunswick's iconic covered bridges remain closed due to flood damage, forcing commuters to find alternate routes.
In Lakeville Corner, residents have been forced to start using a ferry service or drive an extra 45 kilometres, while the twin bridges that connect the community to the highway are being repaired.
Tyler Storey, who has launched the service, says he plans to ferry people to and from the community from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"This morning there was probably about 40 people, now today is the first day, so it might get busier," he said Thursday afternoon.
Another resident of the area, Ben Gilbert, says he's grateful for his boat.
"It saves us 45 minutes, and everybody gets their groceries in Oromocto and everything like that," he said.
The bridges are expected to be back in commission by the end of June.
More bridge repairs
Near Codys, another iconic covered bridge was also severely damaged, and will now be restricted to pedestrian traffic only. The province says that measure will prolong its life.
The approaches to both sides of the bridge must be hauled away.
Leroy Ryder, who lives near the bridge, says the government should just make the necessary repairs.
"Why is it unsafe for cars? And if it is unsafe, make it safe!" he said.
"Who's going to walk through it? Why use it for a pedestrian bridge, people travel daily through here. And tourists are building things here. There's more traffic through here than before. We need it worse now than ever."
Some could come down
The Department of Transportation says its first priority is to maintain transportation routes, but the province's 58 remaining covered bridges are slowly being inspected. Some may have to come down.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser said the department is assessing the bridges on a "case-by-case" basis.
"Our number one priority, restoring the key transportation links, but at the same time, understanding how important the heritage value of these bridges are," he said.
The repairs are expected to cost at least $19 million, which the province is hoping the federal government will pay for.
With files from Catherine Harrop