FREDERICTON (CNB) - The second phase of the renovation of the Saint John Harbour Bridge will begin this week, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams announced today.

"I am pleased to announce that the bridge contractor, Concreate USL, will begin work this week on Phase 2," Williams said. "Rather than push construction late into the fall/winter season when conditions could affect the quality of the work, we have reached an agreement with the company to extend the project completion into the following construction season."

Work this year will be on the Chesley Drive exit ramp and on the centre spans of the eastbound lanes. Remaining work on the eastbound lanes will be completed in 2012.

"The tender for the removal of the toll plaza will be out by the end of June and we expect work should start on taking it down by mid-July and be completed by the fall," Williams added.

The Saint John Harbour Bridge was taken over by the provincial government on April 1 and tolls were removed the same day. The Department of Transportation is now responsible for the bridge operation, maintenance and renovation.