Province using new reusable bridge for Hunter River replacement project

P.E.I.’s Department of Transportation is using a new reusable bridge for the first time.

Traffic on Route 2 in Hunter River will be diverted over the new bridge starting Monday

The province purchased the new modular bridge parts in January. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Department of Transportation is using a newly purchased, reusable bridge for the first time.

The new modular bridge is being used as part of the Hunter River bridge replacement project that is taking place over the summer. The province purchased the bridge in January.

"They're in panels of 10 feet, so the span's adjustable and we'll certainly reuse them for the next 25, 30 years," said provincial bridge engineer Neil Lawless.

"We have several of these bridges in storage now."

Traffic will be diverted to the reusable bridge, located adjacent to the old bridge, starting Monday. Over the summer and early fall, the bridge built in 1980 will be removed and a new bridge will be built in its place. 

Provincial bridge engineer Neil Lawless says the department is trying to stay out of the water course during construction and minimize the environmental impact. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

Lawless said the reusable bridge is more environmentally friendly than the temporary wooden structures that are normally built for a bridge replacement. They function like building blocks and can be tailored to the desired size for a particular need. 

"We can span directly over the water course and try and minimize the impact on the environment without driving piles into the water," he said.

"Also it's a reusable so we're saving money ... more cost effective, and it's quicker to install."

'Minor hiccups'

The construction in Hunter River began June 22 and is expected to run until Thanksgiving. 

Lawless said the new bridge took three weeks to install for the first time. 

The reusable, modular bridge will also have a separate, barricaded walkway for active transportation. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

"[There's] a few little minor hiccups anytime you do something new and, a little bit of a learning curve, but in the big picture it went very well," he said.

"We're just trying to be proactive and think of how we can save money and be more environmentally friendly and get our projects done quicker to minimize the impact on the travelling public."

Lawless said Islanders can expect to see the reusable bridges in future infrastructure projects.

Reduced to single lane

As of Monday, traffic through Hunter River will be reduced to one lane. There will be temporary traffic lights set up at the intersection of routes 2 and 13 as well as near Central Queens Elementary School.

Lawless said travellers should expect delays of up to 10 minutes with the lane reductions.

"It's actually probably a good thing, in a way, for us with, you know, single-lane traffic ...  maybe a sort of a good time," he said of P.E.I.'s tourism season, which has been mainly reduced to seasonal residents and visitors from inside the Atlantic bubble. 

Travellers will drive over the old Hunter River bridge, built in 1980, for the last time on Sunday. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

As for Hunter River's old bridge, Lawless said it has reached the end of its life. It will be replaced by another concrete bridge, that will be slightly wider and have active transportation lanes on both sides. 

Lawless asks that drivers use caution when driving through Hunter River over the coming months.

"Safety is number one," he said.  

"We want everyone to go home at night and have supper with their family."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Brian Higgins


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