March 18, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The provincial government and the City of Fredericton are urging motorists, employers and residents to start preparing now to avoid lengthy traffic delays during this summer's bridge construction project.
The construction of scaffolding and other preparatory work related to Phase 2 of the Princess Margaret Bridge rehabilitation project has started. The 53-year-old bridge is currently open to traffic, but the scope of the work will require it to be closed from June 19 to Aug. 8.
"This closure will have a major impact on traffic patterns in and around Fredericton," said Transportation Minister Denis Landry. "That is why we have been working with the Office of Human Resources to request that where feasible, all provincial government departments implement flex-time work schedules to help ease congestion during peak travel times. Employers in Greater Fredericton are encouraged to join this effort."
The Department of Transportation, the City of Fredericton and ADI Ltd. are working collaboratively on a traffic management plan. Emergency first responders have attended these meetings. A preliminary report was given at a meeting of the Fredericton Transportation Committee today at City Hall.
"Certainly we are prepared to talk to our municipal employees about flex time and other ways to relieve traffic congestion during this important construction project," said Coun. Tony Whalen, chair of the city's transportation committee. "To avoid lengthy traffic delays, all residents should seriously consider changing their driving habits by doing things such as walking, biking, carpooling and using public transit."
Other options presented to reduce traffic congestion included optimizing traffic signal times and several infrastructure improvements/changes to city streets. Reversing lanes on the Westmorland Street Bridge during morning and evening peak times is not a viable option.
The city has already agreed not to close Pointe-Saint-Anne Boulevard for special events during the construction. Fredericton police and fire officials are meeting to develop protocols designed to clear the bridge quickly in the event of an accident.
Park-and-go locations have been identified, and the idea of using a bus shuttle system into the downtown has been suggested. Further information on these proposals will be presented in the coming weeks.
In addition, outreach initiatives will be developed to ensure that tourists and the trucking industry are aware of the closure, and to enable motorists to get the latest bridge and traffic updates online and through the media.
Details of these initiatives will be unveiled when they are finalized. All parties agree that no matter what options are proposed, the key to making the situation manageable will be for residents to change their driving habits during the construction.
"There is no doubt that closing such a major linkage is going to be disruptive, but this rehabilitation work will ensure that the Princess Margaret Bridge continues to serve motorists for many decades to come," said Landry. "It's up to all of us to prepare for the closure and make alternate travel plans, and for employers to give their employees the flexibility to come and go to work outside of peak times."
On Feb. 26, Landry announced that SNC Lavalin, Inc. was the successful bidder to remove and replace the bridge deck and guardrail, and to refurbish and strengthen the 22 bridge piers. The contract also includes sandblasting and painting, along with major work on the steel truss members and bridge bearings.
The Government of New Brunswick is investing more than $80 million during three construction seasons for this project. Further information on the Princess Margaret Bridge rehabilitation project is available online.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Andrew Holland, communications, Department of Transportation, 506-453-5634; Wayne Knorr, communications, City of Fredericton, 506-460-2777.