Fredericton shoots down idea of 2nd walking bridge after price tag hits $45M

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2nd walking bridge in Fredericton doesn't have to be high-end, trails coalition says

2nd walking bridge in Fredericton doesn't have to be high-end, trails coalition says

Fredericton councillors have shot down the idea of building a second walking bridge across the St. John River after city officials pegged the cost at upwards of $45 million.

Coun. Henri Mallet, who also chairs the city's transportation committee, said city staff have received numerous requests about a second walking bridge in Fredericton.

"Our traffic engineer got asked the questions often," he said.

"It could be dangerous to have those conversations without the numbers." 

Those numbers revealed it would cost at least $45 million to build a bridge on top of old piers from the former Carleton Street Bridge.

And a walking bridge built on brand new piers would cost at least $46 million.

- Rebuilding of Fredericton walking bridge postponed a year 

- Popular Fredericton walking bridge faces extensive renovations 

The topic of a second walking bridge was brought up during this week's transportation committee meeting.  

Engineers from Hilcon Ltd., a consulting firm in Fredericton, calculated the costs for the second bridge.

The estimates were based on a six-metre wide pedestrian bridge from the south side to the north side of the city.

The bridge would be two metres wider than the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge to allow enough space for pedestrians, cyclists and small shops in the summer.

"It gets a bit busy during rush hour so we just wanted to make sure we had enough room," he said. 

The city councillor said the current walking bridge sees at least 600,000 users annually. 

'Never say never'

Mallet doesn't think the city will be bringing forward a project like this anytime soon, as many other infrastructure projects are already underway.

"We have a lot of projects that we're working towards now, we have a lot of infrastructure we need to renew," he said. 

"Never say never but lots of work needs to be done before we can look at this."

The Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge will be undergoing major repairs in the fall of 2019.

Nearly $4 million is going to be spent renovating the bridge — rebuilding two or three of the piers, replacing the wood ties underneath and installing new decking. Funding for the project will come from all three levels of government.

Last summer, viewing platforms on the bridge were closed after the city's parks and trees division found rot on the railings. A loose railing on one of the lookout platforms was also discovered.

The platforms will remain closed and will not reopen this summer.