The Canning Bridge in Marystown connects residents on the town’s south side to the town’s north side. (John Stapleton/Town of Marystown)
The provincial government announced Thursday a temporary bridge will be installed in Marystown while work continues on the Canning Bridge, which closed indefinitely to vehicle traffic almost a year ago.
Marystown Mayor Brian Keating said he hopes the temporary bridge will be open to vehicles by late fall this year or early spring next year.
The temporary bridge, known colloquially as a Bailey bridge, will be built alongside the permanent replacement of the Canning Bridge, which Keating said will likely be completed by fall of 2027.
The Canning Bridge closure separates the south side of Marystown, where most people live, from the north side, where the town's grocery stores, restaurants and shops are located. The closure has made travelling in the town a more costly and lengthy endeavour, which many residents have previously described as frustrating and straining.
Keating said the announcement is welcome news for his community.
"Of course, you know, everybody would like the bridge to be open today," he said.
"The temporary bridge … will relieve some of the burden, but we've still got a lot of burden on the taxpayers of Marystown until this bridge is open."
Lengthy permit process
The Canning Bridge on Route 220 closed in February last year, after routine inspections were completed to determine its safety and found it was unfit for vehicle traffic because of a reduction in the its maximum load limit.
The bridge currently remains open to foot traffic and cyclists.
Keating said the town has been working closely with the provincial government for the past year. Three days after the bridge closed, he said council members went to St. John's and met with former Transportation minister Elvis Loveless.
Marystown Mayor Brian Keating says Thursday's announcement is welcome news for his community. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)
Current Transportation Minister John Abbott and Paul Pike, the MHA for Burin-Grand Bank, joined Keating for Thursday's announcement.
Keating said there's $25 million to build both bridges — $5 to $6 million for the temporary bridge, and $18 to $19 million for the permanent bridge.
The schedule to complete the temporary bridge has a lot to do with a lengthy permitting process with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to build it over a waterway.
Keating said his councillors and staff are writing letters to parliament asking federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier to expedite the process.
Once the permits are complete, it will take about six months to complete construction on the temporary bridge.
Other factors will come into play including reviewing bids from contractors, getting building permits and studies.
Although it may seem like a long time to get the bridge up and running, Keating said the town is optimistic.
"We can't harp on the past now, we can only continue forward and make sure that the temporary bridge gets opened in late fall 2024 so the residents will have a safe passage back and forth," he said.