New Brunswick

Discovery of wood rot forces indefinite closure of Hammond River covered bridge

Community members learned from Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser on Tuesday that the Hammond River No. 2 covered bridge in Quispamsis was in worse shape than first thought.

2 options under consideration to replace Hammond River No. 2 bridge with modular structures

The Hammond River Bridge No. 2 has been closed indefinitely to all traffic and repair work has been stopped after significant wood rot was found under the bridge. (CBC)

Community members learned from Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser on Tuesday that the Hammond River No. 2 covered bridge in Quispamsis was in worse shape than first thought.

"We are committed to keeping the community informed of our work on this project," said Fraser.

"The repair work has uncovered unrelated structural deficiencies that raise serious questions about the future of this bridge."

Residents at the meeting heard that when steel was removed from the bottom of the bridge structure, significant wood rot was found and it was determined the structural integrity of the bridge was not safe.

As a result, the bridge is closed to all traffic indefinitely and repair work has stopped. 

"Repairing a 100-year-old bridge is similar to renovating a 100-year-old house," said Fraser.

"You have to begin the work before you can see all the issues you're facing."

The Hammond River Bridge No 2 has been found to be more damaged than first thought. (Jericho Knopp)

The province is now determining a location to install the modular bridge and looking at two options.

They include setting it up next to the existing covered bridge which involves buying property, doing design work and road realignment, and getting environmental approvals. 

The other option is to place it on the 'existing seats' of the covered bridge. This would mean dismantling and removing the covered bridge.

Fraser said the first option would take longer than the second. While there is is no set time frame for option one, the second option is early 2018.

"We felt it was important to let the community know where things stand and to hear their input," said Fraser. "The department will be making a decision on which option to proceed with in the days ahead."

An excavator crashed through the deck of the Hammond River No. 2 covered bridge in October 2016. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The 105-year-old bridge, located on Route 860 at the end of French Village Road, was damaged on Oct. 5 when a contractor hired by the Transportation Department to conduct repairs drove a 13-tonne excavator loaded with lumber across it.

The excavator crashed through and remained suspended between the bridge and embankment below for several days before it could be safely removed.

After consulting the community, the province agreed to repair the bridge rather than replace it. Work began in May.