May 15, 2014 3:43 pm

Petitcodiac River gates close for environmental assessment

MONCTON – The Petitcodiac River’s causeway gates were closed up tight for a few hours Thursday afternoon as researchers used a boat equipped with sonar to map out changes in the riverbed.

Scott Gibson with the province’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure says they’ve been closing the gates periodically for the past four years.

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“As part of the environmental impact assessment, we have to monitor the bottom conditions of the river, the topography of the bottom of the river. We call it hydrographic surveys,” said Gibson.

The Petitcodiac River’s causeway was built in 1968 and cut off the river, but in April 2010, the causeway’s gates were opened permanently as part of an effort restore the river by 2015.

People in the community say the river is breathing again, since the opening of the gates.

“We are really excited about it,” said Moncton resident Anna Staples. “Hopefully the fish will come back up the river and bring more tourism to the area.”

Christine McLauchlan of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance says they’ve been monitoring fish stocks in the river and the results are good so far.

“When they opened the gates they thought the fish would come back,” McLaughlan said. “They’ve come back in huge numbers. They weren’t expecting everything to come back this fast.”

People are still demanding a bridge to be built, something the provincial government announced they would need federal funding to make happen. The estimated cost of a bridge would be $68-million.

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