Edmundston mayor seeks 'comprehensive' study of proposed new bridge to Maine

The federal government is looking for public input on if an environmental impact study should be done when the Madawaska-Edmundston international bridge is replaced.

Mayor Cyrille Simard says replacement bridge is needed but range of impacts needs study

The federal government is seeking public input on whether an environmental impact study should be done when the international bridge in Edmundston is replaced. (Radio-Canada)

Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard says he wants a comprehensive assessment done before the Madawaska-Edmundston international bridge is replaced.

The federal government put out a notice this week looking for public input on whether an environmental impact study should be done when the bridge is replaced.

"If it's going to be there for 100 years, we might as well do it correctly at this stage," said Simard said Friday.

He said the scope of an impact assessment should be broad, and include more than environment.

"Not only addressing natural resources issues and impacts, but also economic impacts, and a socio-cultural impact also," said Simard.

Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard wants to make sure a new bridge is done right, as it will be around a long time. (CBC)

"This is the way they're doing it in the United States. I think in terms of a sustainable development perspective it's the right way to do it."

Simard said there have already been public hearings about an environmental assessment on the U.S. side of the bridge, and he expects the same on the Canadian side.

The project could cost anywhere between $45 million to $70 million, he said, but the project is still in the preliminary pre-design phase.

In need of repair

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will decide whether a new bridge would need to have an environmental assessment. 

The replacement bridge is proposed by the Maine and New Brunswick departments of transportation.

And the bridge does need replacing, Simard said.

"The load has been brought up to five tons only so it creates a hardship for many businesses that have to go around," said Simard. 

"We know for a fact that it has to be replaced. It's been there for 100 years."

Simard said Edmundston does have some requests for what the bridge should look like.

He wants to see a recreational lane on the new bridge to help connect trails on both sides of the St. John River, and he wants the bridge's architecture and design to touch on the city's history and culture.

The federal government will be taking public comments until Dec. 27. From there it will make a decision on whether the assessment is needed.

About the Author

Philip Drost

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.