Lantz residents seek answers on bridge closure

The closure of a bridge in Lantz, N.S., has residents facing a detour and wondering what's next.

Hydes Bridge, a one-lane bridge on Highway 277 that spans the Shubenacadie River, was closed on Friday.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal put up barriers blocking traffic to the bridge after an inspection revealed "deficiencies which require further structural assessment."

The sudden closure of the bridge came as a surprise to people who live nearby. A detour via Dutch Settlement Road, Elmsdale Road and Trunk 2,  adds several minutes of travel time, and residents don't know what's wrong with the bridge.

Paul Palmeter/CBC

"We have had no information other than it is closed until further notice," said Sam Howse, who lives next to the bridge.

When the bridge was built is unclear. One resident who lives near the bridge said her mother, now in her 70s, used to walk across the bridge when she was a child.

The bridge has thick wooden planks for decking and is constantly in need of repairs.

"My house actually shakes every time a dump truck or school bus or any large vehicle would go over it," said Howse. "It's like a rumble, you can hear it and feel it, inside the house."

Paul Palmeter/CBC

A Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spokesperson said certain bridge components were found to be deformed. Further structural assessment will be needed to determine if repairs are required and to what extent.

If repairs are needed it is not known how long the bridge could be out of commission.

Paul Palmeter/CBC

Howse and other residents believe truck traffic is one of the reasons why the bridge has been closed.

She said she has been seeing a steady stream of dump trucks going over the bridge on their way back from a new Highway 102 interchange being built in Lantz.

"I'm sure all the extra weight of these trucks hasn't helped," said Howse. "It's already a busy road anyway and now they've been adding on."

Signs are posted on both sides of the bridge warning truck drivers of a maximum weight of 20 tonnes.

Dump trucks have been carrying loads of rock from a quarry in Lantz to the new interchange. Fully loaded trucks were taking a route that avoided the bridge, but until Friday trucks under the weight limit would cross the bridge because it shortened the return trip.

Paul Palmeter/CBC

Howse said she supports the decision to close the bridge if it is unsafe. But she hopes a plan can be developed quickly to reopen the bridge, or build a new one.

"It would just be nice for someone to give us the information. Are they fixing it? Are they going to shut it down altogether? Are they going to put a temporary bridge up in its place," said Howse.

A replacement for Hydes Bridge is in Nova Scotia's five-year highway improvement plan.