Aug. 7, 2007
MONCTON (CNB) - Supply and Services Minister Roly MacIntyre announced today a preferred option to replace the Petitcodiac River Causeway with a 280-metre long bridge at an estimated cost of $68 million.
"Replacing the Petitcodiac River Causeway with a 280-metre long bridge is the preferred option for this project," MacIntyre said. "It offers the most positive environmental benefits for the river. The next step is to secure a federal/provincial funding agreement. Federal support is critical due to Ottawa's previous involvement in the causeway and the size and cost of this project."
MacIntyre said the causeway was built in 1968 with the collaboration, financial support and approval of the federal government, and the province needs a partnership with Ottawa to solve the long-standing issues surrounding it.
The province's preferred option includes permanently opening the gates to allow fish passage and constructing the new 280-metre long bridge immediately downstream of the existing bridge. The new structure will have four lanes of traffic and will tie into the existing Findlay Boulevard and approach ramps on the Riverview side of the Petitcodiac. Once the new bridge is completed, the existing gates structure will be removed to allow for an eventual river opening of between 72 and 225 metres wide.
Subject to a partnership agreement, the work will be carried out in three phases: two years for planning and site preparation; two years for opening the gates and environmental monitoring of the river; and three to four years for construction of the new bridge, depending on funding support and seasonal weather conditions at the time.
"The Province of New Brunswick is committed to this project," MacIntyre said. "It's going to take time and money and it will have to be done in phases in partnership with the federal government. We also have to make sure the project proceeds in compliance with the environmental approval process and all 17 conditions as set out by the provincial Department of Environment."
In 2002, Supply and Services undertook the management of a federal-provincial environmental impact assessment (EIA) to study possible modifications to the causeway in order to solve fish passage and other ecosystem issues on the river. In December 2006, the final EIA report, including four options, was approved by the Department of Environment.
Federal involvement in the causeway dates back to the time of its construction and later included a federal/provincial memorandum of understanding which was signed in 1996 to develop a long-term solution to fish passage.
In 2000, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a thorough review of all issues surrounding the causeway.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Background information follows. MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Cole, communications officer, Department of Supply and Services, 506-457-7903.
Backgrounder on Petitcodiac River Restoration
The Petitcodiac River has been in its present state for almost 40 years.
Its restoration is environmentally sensitive and must be carried out according to the conditions as set out by the provincial Department of Environment.
Before the gates can open, there is planning, remediation work and site preparation that has to be done to prevent erosion along the river.
Once the gates are open, the seasonal response will need to be monitored for two annual cycles as the river, fish population, and the surrounding habitat adjust to the change.
Building the new bridge will take three to four years to complete, depending on funding support and seasonal weather conditions at the time.