Sewage work on Hillsborough Bridge causing traffic backups

Islanders commuting between Charlottetown and Stratford are going to have to draw on their wells of patience over the next few weeks.

Construction to put a sewer pipe inside the Hillsborough Bridge began Tuesday, and that meant closing down one of the bridge's four lanes.

The province delayed the start of the project until after the morning commute Tuesday, but began closing off lanes in the afternoon. The work is expected to take six to eight weeks.

Traffic in Charlottetown was backed up on routes leading to the bridge during the early-evening rush hour.

The speed limit on the bridge is being reduced to 50 km/h for the duration of the construction project.

There are still two lanes heading toward Stratford after 2 p.m., said Steven Yeo, chief engineer with the Department of Transportation.

Nicole Williams/CBC

Crews will change the flow after 7 p.m. to open two lanes heading to Charlottetown, with one to Stratford.

"We know from past experience if you only have one lane operating, there's long long delays. So we're trying to minimize that," Yeo said.

"Once we have it set up and working for a couple of days I think the public will get used to it."

Yeo said that staff on-site will be helping drivers navigate the new lane system throughout construction.

The sewer pipe is part of project to amalgamate sewage treatment for Charlottetown and Stratford. Raw sewage from Stratford will be pumped across the bridge for treatment in Charlottetown, and the Stratford sewage lagoon will be closed down.

Yeo said the first phase of work will see the south lane shut down and the guard rail removed. That part of the road will be excavated for contractors to lay down two sanitation pipes, before workers move onto the next phase under the bridge.

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