Construction of a temporary bridge is underway in Morell, P.E.I., as a major bridge replacement project gets underway.
The bridge over the Morell River on Route 2 is being replaced in a $7 million project that is expected to take more than a year to complete.
Work at the site started in mid-June and now crews are in place building a temporary bridge, which all traffic will be detoured onto by the end of September.
It will be able to handle two lanes of traffic — east and west bound — with a separate space for bikes and pedestrians.
Officials said things will be tight before the temporary bridge is complete and there may be delays as it is dropped down to one lane of traffic.
"There will be a period — five or six weeks or so — where we have to go single lane traffic on the east approach, the east side of the bridge," said bridge engineer Neil Lawless with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure
"That's to give us more room for construction equipment to construct a temporary bridge at that end of the site."
During that time, a temporary traffic light will be installed to help direct vehicles.
The temporary bridge is the same one used in Hunter River during the bridge replacement project there over the past few years.
The portable sections are being trucked to Morell and reassembled. Crews are now putting steel pilings into the river on which it will sit.
The area near the bridge is a busy access point to the river for commercial oyster fishers as well as recreational anglers and boaters.
The province has built a temporary ramp for their use while construction is underway.
Among the users are a couple of kayak-rental businesses that depend on river access at this location.
One of the business owners said they remain busy with lots of people booking online as always — but drop-in customers are down.
"Well, it's definitely harder to access the site," said Laureen Steadman, owner of Bayside Recreation.
"But the province and the village of Morell have done everything they can to accommodate us and give us access to the water."
The new bridge will be four metres wider than the existing one, with paved shoulders for bikes and walkers.
It will have no piers underneath, making for easier maintenance and fewer obstacles for boat traffic.
Workers will also dismantle the remnants of an even older bridge structure nearby.
The new bridge should be open to traffic next June with the full project expected to be completed by the end of summer in 2022.
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