Temporary sidewalk causes concern in Murray Harbour

The community of Murray Harbour, P.E.I. has built a temporary sidewalk across the bridge on Main Street. The permanent sidewalk is in need of replacing, but that work won't take place until next spring. Residents say the road is too narrow.

P.E.I. government says traffic lanes are within provincial standards

A temporary wooden walkway has been put in place over the bridge on Main Street in Murray Harbour until a permanent sidewalk can be built next spring. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Some residents in Murray Harbour, P.E.I. are concerned that a temporary wooden sidewalk installed across a bridge leading in and out of community, makes the road too narrow.

John Robertson has lived in the area for more than 11 years. He said it's a tight fit across the bridge with a S-curve leading into it.

"That's a great temptation for a lot of people to speed up into the curve, come around a double curve into a bridge," Robertson said. "I've seen people go over the curb, I've seen people go over the sidewalk on the bridge."

The sidewalk will be replaced, but not until next spring.

So, the province built a temporary wooden structure over the existing sidewalk.

"The department felt that it's unsafe to use at this point and time, partly because of the deterioration of the concrete and part of the pedestrian traffic over it as far as turning an ankle. It's not a good surface to walk on," said Stephen Yeo, chief engineer for the province. 

The speed limit has been reduced to 30 km/h on the bridge and message boards will be placed at both ends to warn advising motorists to slow down. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"You see a lot of rebar showing through and on the side too that the guardrail structure is attached to also has some deterioration."

At Wednesday's community council meeting, some residents said the temporary sidewalk makes the road over the bridge narrow and challenging to navigate when more than one vehicle is using the bridge.

The province will review the bridge after the first snowfall to ensure there is sufficient room for larger vehicles such as snowplows. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"It's been deteriorating for a long time and this is long overdue," Robertson added. "It didn't happen overnight. It would have been better for everyone if we'd tackled this problem earlier and didn't have to go with this temporary fix through the winter."

He's particularly concerned about the impact of a buildup of ice and snow on the temporary sidewalk and on the width of the road.

"During the winter months, there's a local saying. We say we're four feet of ice under five feet of snow, so good luck to that temporary structure," said Robertson.

The province says the lanes are within provincial standards. It believes there's enough width for two-way traffic to meet, and isn't concerned.

"What we do want to do is just make people are aware because there's curves at both ends of the bridge — that when you're approaching we have the speed limit down to 30 km/h, and we'll have message boards up there stating that slow down, be careful and just proceed with caution," said Yeo.

Some residents feel the bridge is too narrow with the temporary sidewalk, particularly for larger vehicles like busses and transports. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Sight distance, a vehicle coming in that's not paying attention to speed limit that's a concern to us, but with the information that's going to be provided to the drivers, they should make sure they proceed at the correct speed and proceed with caution," Yeo added.

Yeo said drivers should exercise caution when approaching the bridge, particularly if a larger piece of farm equipment needs to cross the bridge.

The temporary structure will remain in place over the winter until construction begins on a new sidewalk next year. That construction is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.