Already counting down the days until new Petitcodiac River bridge opens

·3 min read
Fen Mabey is counting down the days until a new Petitcodiac River bridge is expected to open. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)
Fen Mabey is counting down the days until a new Petitcodiac River bridge is expected to open. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)

The countdown is on in Riverview for the opening of the new Petitcodiac River bridge linking the town to Moncton — even if it's still months away.

The causeway that drivers always relied on was closed earlier this month, leaving only the Gunningsville Bridge in that area until a new bridge is built and ready for traffic in about six months.

But one business owner is making light of the situation and the slower traffic it's caused. He has started the long countdown until the end of the construction project.

"I'm kind of a fool, I do silly things sometimes — I'm noted for it," Fen Mabey, owner of Riverview Tire, said laughing.

Mabey started counting down the number of days until the project's expected finish date — Oct. 5 — on a sign in front of his shop, in plain view of those stuck in traffic waiting to cross the Gunningsville Bridg.

Traffic backed up on Coverdale Road in Riverview approaching the Gunningsville Bridge earlierl this month during the first morning commute after the causeway closure.
Traffic backed up on Coverdale Road in Riverview approaching the Gunningsville Bridge earlierl this month during the first morning commute after the causeway closure. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"They see me out in the yard, they'll give me a little toot on the horn and a thumbs up type of thing," Mabey said about the reaction he gets from people stalled in traffic.

"I have a philosophy: 'Let's have a laugh everyday — at least one,'" Mabey said, adding he's not doing it for recognition.

But despite his intentions, the sign has become a part of the commuters' day.

Mabey said he usually updates the number daily before 7 a.m., but one day he forgot and someone stopped into his shop to let him know.

"Hey, hey what's going on? You forgot to change the number!" a commuter told him. Mabey said he's been on top of it ever since.

The sign has become a daily attraction for some commuters stuck in traffic.
The sign has become a daily attraction for some commuters stuck in traffic.(Gary Moore/CBC)

"It's been kind of a rough year-and-a-half with all the stuff that's going on, so if this just puts a smile on somebody's face, then it's doing what I wanted it to do."

Mabey's shop is on Coverdale Road in Riverview in between what were once the two connections to Moncton. Since the causeway shut down, he sees long lines of traffic waiting to cross the river.

Mabey said traffic is backed up during peak times in the morning and afternoon for about an hour.

He's also noticed more traffic than usual stopped around midday in front of his shop, which is about a kilometre from the Gunningsville Bridge.

But despite the long-dreaded closure of the causeway, Mabey said he's impressed with how the situation is working out.

"I've just figured Coverdale Road would be nothing but a parking lot, but traffic is moving quite nicely really, considering."

Mabey said most people have accepted the situation for what it is, especially since they knew for some time that the closure was coming.

"There's been a few negative comments, but most of it is positive — they understand that it has to be done and this is the time they're going to do it."