Province committed to reopening Old Florenceville Bridge

·2 min read

The provincial government is committed to saving the historic Old Florenceville Bridge, but the timing and details remain unknown.

New Brunswick Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister and Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson delivered that commitment to town officials and residents in August.

The bridge, built in 1911, which spans the St. John River from downtown Florenceville-Bristol, has been closed to vehicle traffic for nearly two years after engineers discovered structural deficiencies.

Since its closure, town officials and residents have pushed for answers from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. While Johnson delivered the provincial government's commitment to reopen the bridge, she said the long-term plan requires more study.

"I so appreciate the patience of the people of Florenceville-Bristol and surrounds with regard to this file," she said in an email to River Valley Sun.

Johnson said the original plans before the town included only vague costing, using ballpark numbers.

She said the town and stakeholders asked for a more detailed project costing.

"The DTI team have made a fulsome examination of the structure from the top, the deck above the water and below the surface," Johnson said.

The minister said she stood withFlorenceville-Bristol council and area residents as they pleaded their case and explained the value of the bridge to people living in the area.

"Its historical significance, its linkage to the town's identity and the convenience and safety of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular traffic, all weighed in on the commitment to save the bridge," Johnson said.

She said DTI officials' steps include determining the best design structure to preserve the historical integrity while accommodating the day-to-day demands on the structure.

Johnson also noted that DTI is now looking at creating a funding model to accommodate the cost.

The closure of the Old Florenceville Bridge in November 2020 forced travellers to use the nearby Highway 160 bridge.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun