New Brunswick

Reopen Miramichi's Morrissy Bridge: trail groups

Three organizations in Miramichi are working to officially reopen the city's oldest water crossing, Morrissy Bridge.

City's oldest span over Miramichi River could be used by walkers, cyclists, ATVs, snowmobiles

Three organizations are calling for the reopening of Morrissy Bridge in Miramichi.

The Morrissy Bridge in Miramichi has been closed since 2008, but many people still use it on foot. (Bridget Yard/CBC)
The bridge has been a fixture across the Miramichi River between Chatham Head and Newcastle since 1914, but it was deemed unsafe in 2008 and has been closed since then.

Now the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, the New Brunswick All Terrain Vehicle Federation and The New Brunswick Trails Council Inc. say the bridge should become a legal throughway again. 

"What we would like to see is all of us partner together with the city and the province to get that bridge opened up for all trail users," said Paul Jorgensen, the executive director of the trails council.

Paul Jorgensen, the executive director of the New Brunswick Trails Council, would like to see the City of Miramichi and the province partner with his group, as well as ATV and snowmobile groups, to reopen the Morrissy Bridge as a trail. (Bridget Yard/CBC)
The groups say the bridge could help extend the snowmobile season, improve ATV trails, and encourage "active transportation."

When the bridge was first closed it was going to be demolished, but Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams said the demolition plans were put on hold after community stakeholders expressed an interest in keeping the bridge for recreational use.

Williams said the stakeholders were discouraged from moving forward, however, by the cost of repairs and maintenance.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams said it would take more money in the capital budget to reopen the Morrissy Bridge. (CBC)
The bridge needs an estimated $6 million worth of work, which neither the municipality, nor the clubs can afford.

The transportation minister says no final decision about the bridge has been made.

"The department will consult with the community again before making any further plans for demolition. This would only occur if and when funding becomes available in the capital budget," Williams said in a statement.

For now, the bridge remains officially closed even to pedestrians, although it is regularly used by people who ignore the posted signs and step over the barricade.

"If it sits much longer unused, I wonder if it will be structurally sound," said Jorgensen.