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Clarenville hopes to secure Bailey bridge to allow traffic back on Shoal Harbour causeway

Shoal Harbour causeway bridge was closed a couple of weeks ago when an inspection deemed it had deteriorated to the point of needing replacement.
Shoal Harbour causeway bridge was closed a couple of weeks ago when an inspection deemed it had deteriorated to the point of needing replacement. - Mark Squibb

Town and province now discussing who owns the bridge

SHOAL HARBOUR, N.L. — Until the Shoal Harbour causeway bridge is replaced, the Town of Clarenville is looking to secure a temporary Bailey bridge structure.

Clarenville’s chief administrative officer David Harris told The Packet on Friday, April 20, they’ve been working with Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway and the Department of Transportation and Works to get a solution for the bridge, which was closed to traffic last month.

He says they had to do something.

“Our request to government is to install a two-lane Bailey bridge over the existing bridge . . . to be able to open the road again,” said Harris.

Harris says the province is looking through its inventory of bridges, determining the amount of sections they need.

Harris says this would allow traffic to open until the issues with the main bridge are addressed.

“Hopefully we’ll have the bridge open as soon as (Transportation and Works) can get their bridge put in place,” he said.

It could be more than a year before the causeway bridge is repaired.

Harris confirmed engineers have told the town that once funding is approved, it will still take 12 to 18 months for the entire process to be completed.

Harris adds there has been some question about the ownership of the causeway bridge.

“It is council’s position that the bridge is owned by (provincial) government,” says Harris.

According to Harris, the bridge was never transferred over to the Town of Clarenville in the amalgamation agreement with Shoal Harbour in 1994. The bridge was part of Route 230 of the Bonavista Highway at the time.

“There was a section of Balbo Drive taken over by the town, but that happened two years after amalgamation. We have no records in our documents; the government hasn’t been able to provide any in theirs showing any transfer of that asset to the Town of Clarenville or Shoal Harbour.”

He adds, since it is the province’s asset, they should be responsible for replacing the bridge.

“We’re discussing with government now on how that bridge can be funded or replaced … so we’re still going through negotiations with them on when it can be replaced.”

Harris says that discussion will play out over the next couple of months, but the immediate goal is to relieve traffic flow on Shoal Harbour Drive — which has become the main route into Clarenville — by installing the temporary Bailey bridge to allow traffic to once more use the causeway and the Memorial Drive route.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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