COVID-19 affecting supply chain for P.E.I. bridge replacement

·2 min read

Work on the Oyster Bed Bridge replacement will take longer than expected due to COVID-19-related supply chain issues.

The contractor for the project is based on the mainland — and it's been difficult to get materials to the Island since P.E.I. left the Atlantic bubble, says Neil Lawless, bridge engineer working on the project.

"It just takes longer, you know, also sanitation and just takes longer to do the work, and so that's part and parcel to this life that we're in now. We're working as best we can to balance it all out," Lawless said.

Route 6 where the road crosses over to Wheatley River has been closed since mid-October.

Now the province is pushing the reopening of the bridge to the end of March, about a month later than initially expected.

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

All construction is taking longer due to workers having to follow COVID-19 restrictions, said Lawless.

"They, you know, have to maintain their separation and it just takes longer," he said.

The new bridge will be longer, wider and provide more clearance for water traffic such as boats, he said.

"The new bridge is designed by the current highway and bridge design code and it can take heavier loads and so it'll certainly be safer," he said.

The project was started in October to minimize impacts on local industries such as farming and fishing, Lawless said.

"It's never nice to have a detour and with bridge construction, but it's the nature of the game I guess. We have to replace it for public safety."

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

The hope is after the bridge is replaced it will last about 75 years, he said.

However, the detour currently in place is affecting residents who live near the area.

"It's affecting me quite a bit at times. When I go to North Rustico to grab groceries and things like that it takes a lot longer," said Adam James, who lives in Brackley.

"It takes at least another 10 to 15 minutes depending on the weather. Besides that it is a bit of an inconvenience and I thought it'd be done by now."

The bridge replacement is a $3.2 million project.

The province says the slow down due to COVID-19 won't add to the costs.

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