Prov­ince to re­place Rain­bow Bridge with new struc­ture

Ten­der to go to mar­ket within four to eight weeks, con­struc­tion could take a year or more

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAR­RELL COLE dar­rell.cole@amher­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Mo­torists us­ing Highway 2 be­tween Amherst and Springhill have re­ceived some good news.

Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal Min­is­ter Lloyd Hines con­firmed Thurs­day the prov­ince will re­place the closed Rain­bow Bridge over the Nap­pan River with a new bridge.

“We re­ceived the con­sul­tants’ report and we’re con­tinue to ab­sorb what it says, but at this point, of the op­tions avail­able to us, we have de­cided to pro­ceed with a full re­place­ment,” Hines told the Amherst News. “In the longer term, it’s good news for the com­mu­nity be­cause they’re go­ing to get a new struc­ture.”

Hines said three op­tions were pre­sented in­clud­ing build­ing a new bridge, re­plac­ing the bridge with a bai­ley bridge or re­pair­ing the ex­ist­ing struc­ture that has been closed since De­cem­ber amid struc­tural con­cerns.

Hines said putting a semiper­ma­nent struc­ture, or bai­ley bridge, over the river would greatly re­duce the weight-car­ry­ing abil­i­ties of trucks us­ing the struc­ture to con­nect from Springhill and other com­mu­ni­ties with Amherst and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Re­pair­ing the bridge, he said, would only be a short-term fix and would likely re­quire more work to be done in sev­eral years. In­stead, he said, the best op­tion is to build a new struc­ture that will last for decades.

“With this de­ci­sion, we will be ask­ing for peo­ple’s pa­tience as we moved for­ward,” Hines said. “We’re push­ing hard to get the ten­der to the mar­ket within the next four to eight weeks. It’ll have to go through the pro­cure­ment and we hope to start as quickly as we can.” Hines could not be spe­cific with when con­struc­tion would be­gin, but he ex­pects it to start dur­ing the 2018 con­struc­tion sea­son and be com­plete in 2019. He es­ti­mates it could cost be­tween $3 mil­lion and $4 mil­lion to build a new bridge. He ex­pects it will be paid for via the prov­ince’s cap­i­tal bridge over two years.

In the mean­time, mo­torists will con­tinue to have to de­tour around the closed bridge by us­ing the Smith Road and Southamp­ton Road or the Lower Porter Road. The pre­ferred de­tour is longer, re­sult­ing in most peo­ple us­ing the Lower Porter Road. The min­is­ter un­der­stands th­ese roads are not meant for th­ese traf­fic vol­umes and said de­part­ment crews will keep a close eye on both de­tour roads and make re­pairs as needed.

“Once the ten­der award is made, we would ex­pect con­struc­tion to be­gin this year,” the min­is­ter said. “It could take a year, or maybe longer. Th­ese are com­pli­cated struc­tures. We’ll push for ex­pe­di­ency be­cause we want this fixed like the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity do. It’s some­thing that’s go­ing to take a lit­tle longer than re­pair­ing it would, but at the end of the day we’re go­ing to have a struc­ture that will last many years.” Tory Rush­ton, PC can­di­date for Cum­ber­land South, said the bridge is an im­por­tant link be­tween Cum­ber­land North and South. “It’s a vital trans­porta­tion link for all trav­el­ers in our re­gion,” Rush­ton said in a news re­lease.

Cum­ber­land North MLA El­iz­a­beth Smith-McCrossin wel­comed the news and hopes the project pro­ceeds as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“It’s very good news for Cum­ber­land County in that a ma­jor link be­tween Amherst and Springhill is go­ing to be re­placed. Let’s just hope it’s com­pleted as ex­pe­di­tiously as pos­si­ble,” SmithMcCrossin said. “The peo­ple of Cum­ber­land County spoke loud and clear and the min­is­ter got the mes­sage. This is great news.”

The MLA cred­its Kerry Warner for work­ing hard to raise aware­ness about the loss of the bridge. Her pe­ti­tion gath­ered more than 3,000 sig­na­tures.

“I am so proud of our small, but strong, com­mu­nity, choos­ing to stand to­gether and be per­sis­tent as a whole when it mat­tered,” said Warner, whose pe­ti­tion gar­nered 3,700 sig­na­tures. “Si­lence and pa­tience didn’t bring the ex­ist­ing Rain­bow Bridge the at­ten­tion, pri­or­ity or im­prove­ment the de­crepit bridge needed pre­vi­ous to its abrupt clo­sure.

“I feel res­i­dents tipped the scales in our com­mu­nity’s favour and the time­line we’re see­ing here is a di­rect re­sult.”

She feels the as­sess­ment and de­ci­sion would have been held off if the pub­lic had not been vo­cal about re­plac­ing the struc­ture.

“Not only have they proven this ru­ral bridge is a sta­ple for the safety and ef­fi­ciency of our com­mu­nity, but the smaller ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties should be con­sid­ered a pri­or­ity as well,” Warner said.

AN­DREW WAGSTAFF – THE CI­TI­ZEN-RECORD

Pro­vin­cial Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal Min­is­ter Lloyd Hines has an­nounced the closed Rain­bow Bridge on Highway 2 will be re­placed with a new bridge.

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