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More than $82M to be spent repairing Centennial Bridge in Miramichi

Watch above: The Centennial Bridge in Miramichi is getting more than $82-million in repairs and renovations from the federal and provincial governments. Alex Abdelwahab reports.

MIRAMICHI, N.B. – The federal and New Brunswick governments have committed to spend up to $82 million over the next nine years on repairing the Centennial Bridge in Miramichi.

At the announcement in Miramichi Monday morning, N.B. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Roger Melanson had one message for residents.

“Miramichiers, obviously we want to see some patience, as we do some repair work on this bridge,” he said. “As with all bridge work, closure will only be done when necessary and with the greatest consideration for safety and traffic patterns.”

The project involves maintaining the bridge’s structural integrity, increasing its load capacity and bringing the roadway up to current design standards.

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The province says it will spend up to $44.2 million on the project and the federal government has committed up to $38.6 million.

A $900 million, six-year infrastructure plan was one of the Gallant government’s election promises.

The 1,180-metre bridge crosses the Miramichi River.

It was opened in 1967 to link northern New Brunswick with the rest of the province.

The Centennial Bridge has already been undergoing major upgrades over the last three years. The province awarded the contract to MGM Quality Manufacturing Ltd, of Tracadie-Sheila in 2012 at a cost of $13 million.

“I thought it would be done by now,” resident Jake Dickson told Global News.“It’s not been very good. Sometimes you’re waiting there for about an hour just to get across.”

Another resident, Kevin Bell, agreed.

“You know it cuts down on business on this side of the river too,” he said. “You know, as far as people coming over here to shop and spend their money; and it’s hard to get over to the other side of the river because that’s where most of the malls are.”

Route 11, Route 8 and Route 124 run along the bridge and it sees about 15,000 cars every day, according to the province’s assessment.

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Melanson said the upgrades will extend the lifespan of the bridge by 50 years.

“This is a safety issue,” Miramichi Mayor Gerry Cormier told reporters. “It’s good news for the city because it also brings some work. So I’m happy today for this announcement.”

The $82 million is the assessed cost for the project, the actual cost won’t be finalized until the tender process is over.

With files from Global’s Alex Abdelwahab