MLA welcomes next phase of Old Florenceville Bridge repairs

by | Oct 23, 2023

Request for Proposals issued for bridge repairs, with construction beginning next summer

“This made my day,” said Carleton-Victoria MLA and Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson, referring to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s plans to take the next step towards reopening the historic Old Florenceville Bridge.

As MLA, Johnson said she’s been fighting the uphill battle to reopen the bridge since it closed to vehicle traffic almost three years ago.

DTI Minister Richard Ames announced in a press release late Friday afternoon, Oct. 20, the department’s plans to move forward with the next phase of the repair plan.

He explained the department reviewed contractor submissions to its request for qualifications (RFQ) issued this summer to gauge contractor interest in taking on the repair and replacement project under a design-build agreement.

Johnson said the review identified four contractors capable of completing the unique and demanding project.

In its press release, DTI announced it issued a request for proposals (RFP) on Oct. 21, with a closing date of Dec. 15.

Johnson explained engineers and architects identified the complications surrounding the bridge project and the winning contractor would need the skill to propose and handle the unique challenge.

She said the bridge spanning the St.John River from downtown Florenceville-Bristol to West Florenceville is formed in two parts — a short covered bridge on the east connected to a long steel structure.

Johnson said the RFP “made it very clear” that any proposal must maintain the covered portion of the bridge,

She explained the steel portion of the bridge poses the most significant challenge, with the most extended time demands surrounding its removal and replacement in the form of a Bailey Bridge or another type of structure.

Twisted and corroded steel made the structure unsafe for vehicle traffic, leading to its closure in November 2020.

Johnson said the covered section needs repairs but is in relatively good shape. She added the wooden bridge is an essential part of Florenceville-Bristol’s heritage.

“It’s part of the branding of our community,” she said.

Johnson said her government believes strongly in preserving New Brunswick’s covered bridges, noting their role in the province’s history, heritage and tourism.

In DTI’s release, Ames echoed Johnson’s view regarding covered bridges.

“We understand the importance of this bridge to the region, as well as the historic significance of the covered bridge portion,” he said. “Our government recognizes this structure is a central link, and I am pleased plans are moving along.”

Johnson acknowledged some might question the importance of the Old Florenceville Bridge, considering its proximity to the old highway bridge, which spans the river on Route 130.

She explained the design of the Route 130 bridge, which includes a significant curve, is unsafe for pedestrian traffic.

“The design of the old highway bridge is daunting,” Johnson said.

She said ongoing repairs to the bridge, which limited vehicle traffic to a single lane for long periods over the past few years, will continue well into the future.

The DTI release estimated the Old Florencevlle Bridge construction will begin next summer.

For road conditions, click the map

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