FREDERICTON (GNB) – Repairs will be made to the Hammond River No. 2 covered bridge in French Village.

“Following recent consultation with the community about the two options to restore service at this crossing, there was overwhelming support for restoration of the covered bridge,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser. “We are listening to New Brunswickers. This is another example of how we are working together to get things done.”

Design work will soon begin toward returning the 104-year-old bridge to service. Repairs will include work to timber batter posts, floor beams, chord-bracing, and adjustment of the bridge’s northeast portal.

While closed for maintenance in early October, the bridge was damaged when an excavator broke through the decking. An inspection determined there had been significant deterioration of the structure over many years, unrelated to the accident.

During a Nov. 28 public meeting, residents were presented with the options of either repairing the covered bridge or replacing it with a modern steel structure that could be built faster, support truck traffic and not be subject to special weight restrictions.

Following the meeting, residents were given one week to complete a feedback form, identifying their preferred option.

“On Dec. 6, Hampton MLA Gary Crossman and I reviewed the submissions, and, as a result, I wish to advise there was overwhelming support for restoring the covered bridge. In view of this, department staff will be commencing work on the repairs in the immediate future,” said Fraser.

There are 58 covered bridges in New Brunswick that support community access, serve as heritage sites, and provide opportunities for tourism.

“As these bridges become compromised by age, wear and tear, and carrying loads heavier than they were designed for, the government will be challenged with more decisions like this in the future. Over the coming months, department staff will undertake a review of the covered bridges and work on a strategy for their stewardship to ensure communities and taxpayers are receiving the best return on their investments,” said Fraser.