FRENCH VILLAGE (GNB) – The provincial government will restore a vital transportation link across the Hammond River at French Village by installing a modular bridge on the existing covered bridge seats.

Work on the installation of the modular bridge, which will involve removing the existing covered bridge, will begin immediately. The new bridge should be open to traffic by January 2018.

“The removal of the covered bridge was a difficult decision to make, however, in talking to residents, it became quite clear that restoring this transportation link took priority over preserving the covered bridge,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser.

The Hammond River No. 2 covered bridge has been undergoing repairs since May. During the course of repairs, steel was removed from the bottom chords of the bridge structure. The removal of the steel revealed significant wood rot that compromises the structural integrity of the bridge. It was not feasible to conduct the extent of the structural work needed to bring the covered bridge back to service.

“The mandate of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is to provide safe, reliable transportation links to the travelling public,” said Fraser. “That said, we also recognize the cultural importance of covered bridges as heritage icons.”

The department updated the community on the structural deficiencies last week at a public meeting, and detailed two options for installing a modular bridge, either:

  • next to the existing covered bridge, which would involve property acquisition, design work and road realignment, as well as environmental approvals; or
  • on the existing seats of the covered bridge, which will involve the dismantling and removal of the covered bridge.

“We felt it was important to let the community know where things stood and to hear their input,” said Fraser.

The majority of those attending the public meeting expressed support for the removal of the covered bridge and the installation of the modular bridge on the existing seats. This option will restore transportation across the Hammond River within a few months, while the time frame for the other option was much longer.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will work with the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture and the local community to commemorate the covered bridge, which was built in 1913.