Mira Gut getting new bridge 4 years after deteriorating span torn down
Bridge expected to open in November, project estimated at $10M
A Cape Breton community that is home to one of the island's busiest beaches and a scenic ocean drive is finally getting a new bridge over the Mira River to replace one torn down four years ago because of safety concerns.
Work began Monday to build a new bridge in Mira Gut, a small seaside community about 25 kilometres outside of Sydney.
Lynn Colson, who lives in the area, said she's been worried about what would happen in the case of an emergency at the municipal Mira Gut beach without a bridge in place.
She said paramedics who are not familiar with the area might take the wrong route.
"It can be a matter of life and death for some people really," she said. "It would be terrible to send an ambulance down the wrong road and you're stuck on the wrong side of the river trying to get to somebody."
Old bridge torn down in 2017
Without a bridge, Mira Bay Drive is impassable along the coast. Cars are forced to take a 20-minute detour along Hornes or Brickyard roads.
The community's 140-year-old railway bridge was deemed unsafe during a 2017 inspection after years of complaints about its deteriorating condition.
Later that year, the rusting structure was torn down.
The provincial Transportation Department said it took time to design the new bridge, work with stakeholders, issue a tender and award the contract for work.
"It is a fairly long process," said Paul Colton, an area manager with the department.
"We're really pleased that a contractor is now on site, we started work, and by the end of the summer into the fall, the bridge should be in place."
Bridge to open later this year
Colton said the project involves placing a prefabricated steel truss bridge on concrete abutments. The new bridge will have two lanes of traffic and a sidewalk for pedestrians.
The design places the bridge 6.5 metres above high tide to allow boats to move throughout the area.
"Boat passage shouldn't be restricted," said Colton. "The new bridge is quite higher. [It will] be the same height as the Albert Bridge, which is also on the river."
Colton said workers will also move the entrance to the Mira Gut beach parking lot. During construction, people can still go to the beach on both sides of the bridge, and the beach's on-site washrooms will be open.
The bridge is expected to open in November. The cost of the project has been estimated around $10 million.
Colson said she is looking forward to having a bridge in place.
"There'd be less confusion and travelling between communities," she said. "It would be a big asset to have that done."