Petitcodiac River bridge work to start early, causeway to close in April

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This year the causeway which crosses the Petitcodiac River and links Riverview with Moncton, will be replaced with a new bridge. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
This year the causeway which crosses the Petitcodiac River and links Riverview with Moncton, will be replaced with a new bridge. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

The provincial government is closing the Petitcodiac River causeway a month early as it continues work to construct a new bridge linking Moncton and Riverview.

The causeway will close on April 5 and the bridge will open in its place in October, according to a media release by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure on Thursday.

The closure is required to realign the river channel under the new bridge and to decommission the existing gate structure and construct the approaches and bridge connections, the department said.

"Because the traffic is lighter because of COVID, it seemed like a great idea to start the work a month earlier because that would mean we'd have it open a month earlier," Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jill Green said in an interview.

She said the bridge is being built on the site of the causeway, and once that's finished in October, a 12-year environmental followup will be done to monitor any impacts on the river.

The group Petitcodiac Renaissance released this image in 2016 of what a proposed partial bridge across the Petitcodiac River would look like.
The group Petitcodiac Renaissance released this image in 2016 of what a proposed partial bridge across the Petitcodiac River would look like.

While the causeway is closed, traffic will be diverted to the Gunningsville Bridge and signage will be in place, according to the media release.

In 2014, former premier Brian Gallant and then-Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced a $61.6-million project to build a bridge across the Petitcodiac River to link Moncton and Riverview as part of efforts to restore the river.

Work to construct the bridge began in 2017.

The existing causeway, built in 1968, has been a point of contention among area residents and pitted environmental groups against homeowners on the river's headpond.

The new Petitcodiac River bridge will be opened to traffic when work is completed in October.
The new Petitcodiac River bridge will be opened to traffic when work is completed in October.

Environmental activists complained that the causeway reduced the flow of sediment in the tidal river required for a functioning ecosystem and that its gates obstructed migrating fish, including Atlantic salmon.

The homeowners, however, wanted the causeway left in place and worried the loss of Lake Petitcodiac would hurt property values.

In a later interview, Green said reduced traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic was the reason for deciding to start work early this year.

In 2018, the province partnered with the Town of Riverview on a $1.8-million project to add lanes and upgrade the intersection at Route 114-Gunningsville Bridge/ Gunningsville Boulevard, the department said.

Those upgrades were made to alleviate traffic congestion during the Petitcodiac Bridge and channel construction, the department said.