April 17, 2010
MONCTON (CNB) - Residents of Greater Moncton gathered to commemorate the opening of the gates on the Petitcodiac causeway as the restoration of the tidal estuary of the Petitcodiac River begins its next phase.
Phase 1 involved planning, and site preparation, including shoreline and erosion protection along the river channel, waterline relocation, drainage improvements, and dike and aboiteaux construction.
Phase 2 involves allowing the Petitcodiac to flow freely as a tidal river. With the gates open, the seasonal response will be monitored for up to two years as the river, fish population, and the surrounding habitat adjusts to the change.
Premier Shawn Graham, Supply and Services Minister Ed Doherty and Local Government Minister Chris Collins spoke at the public celebration, held on the Moncton boardwalk.
"This river plays a prominent part in the history of this region and our entire province," said Graham. "Unfortunately, when the causeway was built in 1968, people were unable to anticipate the environmental damage it would cause. Now, the Petitcodiac River is once again flowing freely as a tidal river. People around the world are taking notice of this special place and congratulating New Brunswickers on this important effort to respect and preserve our natural environment for future generations.”
The causeway gates were opened around 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 14. Doherty said the opening and the project have captured the interest of local residents and of people around the world.
"Opening the gates is a critical first step in allowing the river to re-establish its health and diversity after more 40 years of environmental degradation because of the causeway," Doherty said. "The Petitcodiac was a lifeline to thousands of people and of communities along its length for more than a century. We have great hope that through these efforts, the river will return to some of its previous glory now that the tidal flows and fish passage will be restored."
Following completion of Phase 2, the third phase will involve constructing a 280-m bridge to replace the existing causeway. Construction will take three to four years. When the new bridge is completed, the existing gate structure will be removed to allow for a 225-m wide opening.
Graham thanked the members of the Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition, the Petitcodiac Riverkeepers and other supporters who have worked with the province on this process.
"It is a recovery that will definitely take time," said Graham. "But I am sure we can make it happen through the strong partnerships and co-operation that have already brought us this far."
MEDIA CONTACT: Sheri Strickland, communications, Department of Supply and Services, 506-457-7903.