Town gets new funding for permanent walking bridge

After more than 10 years attempting to arrange a permanent walking bridge over Trout Creek, Sussex has closed the funding gap.

The town is preparing to send out the tenders after an agreement was reached with the Regional Development Corporation to provide $300,000 in funding for the pedestrian bridge project, according to town CAO Scott Hatcher. Council voted on Monday last week to accept the funding offer after the costs of the foundations drove the project price from the originally planned $560,000 to $1.1 million.

Deputy mayor Tim Wilson said the notion of a walking link from Princess Louise Park to the Main Street area goes back for more than a decade.

"We thought we had all the funding lined up, but when we went out to tender it was over budget, so now we're seeking additional funding, but we're very close," he said.

Hatcher said that the vision began in 2009, when they acquired conveyor belts that were given to them from a nearby mine. In 2013 the town received a stipulation letter from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans laying out the requirements and by 2015 they'd been approved for a temporary span during the summer months.

Hatcher said that the agreement to add funding from the RDC was finalized last Wednesday and they're preparing to send out the tender now, with the intent that the bridge be finished within the next three months.

"We've been trying to get in place where we can physically put a bridge in place there and we're so close to making that happen right now," he said, calling the RDC's assistance "a welcome addition." The federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is also contributing, with the town making up the balance, he said.

The temporary bridge was removed a few weeks early due to post-tropical storm Lee, Hatcher said at council. That bridge would accommodate about two people across, while the new one will be about a dozen people across, he said.

"It's low to the water, if there's high water it moves off its abutments," he said. "This new bridge will be permanent, it won't be removed and it will meet the criteria to allow 1/100 year event flow underneath it."

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal