Lincoln business sees few customers since bridge forced to close

Damage a dump truck did to the Lincoln Bridge last month has also hurt a local business, and employees there are worried.

Stanley Barrett, controller of Phil's Auto & Recreation Ltd., says business has slowed down significantly since the truck hit the bridge Feb. 19 and put its safety into question.

Barrett said the business, at 2713 on Route 102, might as well be on a dead-end road.

"It's going to affect us tremendously," he said of the closure. "We'll end up probably having to put on some kind of promotion that will attract people to our place, but it's not the time of year we should have to reduce profits."

Barrett said the business runs all year, mostly selling boats and all-terrain vehicles, but March is when sales really start to pick up.

"People start talking about boats and that's our main business," he said. "So we're seeing no traffic coming into the dealership since that closure of the bridge."

Jeff Hull, a spokesman for the New Brunswick Department of Transportation, said an inspection was performed Monday, Feb 20, after the dump truck hit the bridge.

"It was determined that all seven upper–horizontal-bracings had been significantly damaged on the northern span of this two-span bridge," read an email to CBC News.

"Two out of the seven upper-horizontal bracings received significant damage on the southern span." ‎

A repair plan is being prepared, but the bridge, which was built in 1956, remains closed to all traffic, and Hull doesn't know when it will reopen.

"An accident of this severity requires a thorough assessment of the structural integrity as part of the plan for repairs," said Hull.

"This involves highly technical and time-consuming procedures, including detailed magnetic particle testing of bridge components, which is necessary to uncover damage that may not be visible to the human eye."

Barrett worries that the repairs will take more than a few weeks.

"I don't think it's a big job to repair the bridge," he said. "It's a matter of getting some steel and getting the job done."

Increasing emergency response

Oromocto fire Chief Jody Price said his department hasn't had to respond to emergencies on the other side of the bridge so far, but firefighters have tested the timing of each new route.

The closure of the bridge has increased travel time to 13 minutes from six to eight minutes, he said.

"The travel time's the travel time," said Price. "We can't put on a jet pack and fly across the river."

Oromocto Mayor Robert Powell said residents have made necessary adjustments since the bridge closure but it is an inconvenience.

"We're just playing a waiting game," he said.