July 7, 2008
MONCTON (CNB) - Work to restore the Petitcodiac River will begin with $20 million in funding from the province over the next two years, Premier Shawn Graham announced today.
"A total of $8 million is being invested by the Government of New Brunswick in this fiscal year for design and the start of construction work," Graham said. "Another $12 million will be made available in 2009-10 to complete Phase 1 of the restoration. The completion of Phase 1 will be a milestone for this project, as it will allow for the opening of the causeway gates and unobstructed fish passage in the river system."
In making the announcement, Graham said that a sustainable environment helps build a more self-sufficient province.
Tenders for the start of construction will be issued this summer with work commencing in the early fall of 2008.
Phase 1 involves planning, remediation work and site preparation to prevent erosion. This includes shoreline and erosion protection up and down the river channel, waterline relocation, drainage improvements, and dyke and aboiteaux construction. Once this work is complete, the gates of the causeway will be opened in the spring of 2010.
Phase 2 involves allowing the river to flow freely as a tidal river. With the gates open, the seasonal response will be monitored for up to two annual cycles as the river, fish population, and the surrounding habitat adjust to the change.
Phase 3 involves the construction of a 280-metre-long 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. Building the new bridge will take three to four years to complete, depending on federal/provincial funding support and seasonal weather conditions. 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 in width.
The total estimated cost of the three-phase project is $68 million over the next few years.
In 2002, Supply and Services undertook 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, which included four options, was approved by the Department of Environment.
In August 2007, the province announced a preferred option to replace the Petitcodiac River causeway with the 280-metre-long bridge. A total of $400,000 was invested in 2007-08 to begin the planning process.
The Petitcodiac causeway was built in 1968 with the collaboration, financial support and approval of the federal government. Federal involvement later included a federal/provincial memorandum of understanding to develop a long-term solution to fish passage, which was signed in 1996. In 2000, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a thorough review of all issues surrounding the causeway.
"Ottawa has a long involvement in this file, and we believe it should be our partner in the restoration of the river," Graham said. "We are continuing to seek federal support for the project. At the same time, we made a commitment in our Charter for Change to restore the river in a timely fashion. For the health and sake of the river, Phase 1 of the transformation of the Petitcodiac must now begin."
The project will be carried out in compliance with the environmental approval process, and all 17 conditions as set out by the Department of Environment.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, Office of the Premier, 506-444-2286; Judy Cole, communications officer, Department of Supply and Services, 506-457-7903.