FREDERICTON (CNB) – The Princess Margaret Bridge in Fredericton will be closed from May 8 to Sept. 5 to accommodate the final phase of repairs to the 53-year-old structure. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams made the announcement today.

"We want to ensure that motorists, employers and residents have ample time to plan alternate routes to avoid traffic delays during this period," said Williams. "Last year's five-week closure went smoothly because the residents of Fredericton were prepared and extremely co-operative."

The beginning of this year's closure, May 8, may change depending on the weather and the risk of flooding during the spring.

"This year we anticipate the closure to be more challenging since it will begin while school is still in session," said Williams. "We are once again asking everyone to consider changing their driving habits by doing things such as walking, biking, carpooling and using public transit."

Again this year, the Department of Transportation and the City of Fredericton are working on a traffic management plan. Programs used in the 2010 closure such as a park-and-go system and a shuttle bus system to the downtown are being reviewed and considered.

In addition, outreach initiatives will be developed to ensure that tourists and the trucking industry are aware of the closure; and, to enable motorists to get the latest bridge and traffic updates online and through the media.

SNC Lavalin Inc. was awarded the contract in 2010 to rehabilitate the structure. The work includes replacement of the bridge deck, traffic barriers and bearings; refurbishment of the 22 piers and both abutments; and complete structural steel sandblasting, strengthening and painting.

The provincial government is investing more than $80 million in this project. Once the project is complete, the structure will be capable of accommodating car and truck traffic for the next 50 years.