Although only a few days have passed since raging waters swept through Hoyt, N.B.’s Bell Bridge, damaging it beyond repair, crews have already started tearing down the structure down, which had stood since the 1930s.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser said Tuesday that demolition of the landmark would start within 24 to 48 hours once equipment was moved in.
For residents who’ve spent their entire lives in the area, it’s a bit of a shock to know one of their beloved covered bridges would soon be no more.
“It’s really sad,” said Debbie McCann, who recalls swimming near the bridge as a teenager. “Hoyt brags about our three covered bridges. We’re very proud of them.”
“Our bridge being taken down is something that we’re very disappointed about,” she said.
That disappointment stems from what McCann feels is a lack of consultation from government.
Many who have called the area home for decades say the last thing they want is for a piece of their history to be swept aside and forgotten.
“We feel like it’s very uncaring, for one thing. And they’re not really thinking about how people feel about a historical covered bridge,” she said. “We thought maybe we might have had an opportunity to at least salvage part of that bridge and move it to our historical site.”
“So that is extremely disappointing that they’re right in there already without even consulting with the residents of Hoyt, not even considering the feelings and how we feel about our bridge.”
Fire Chief Daryl Price said the safety of the residents in Juvenile Settlement, virtually cut off from the rest of the province, is his department’s top priority.
He indicated crews have made the logging road — the only other way in and out of the area without the bridge — “more accessible” and that if residents are in an emergency, the department will respond immediately.
WATCH: Weekend storm claims another historic covered bridge in New Brunswick
Still, he doesn’t deny the sentimental value attached to a bridge that was beloved by everyone in the area.
“We’re known as a covered bridge community,” Price said. “We actually have that on our shoulder flash for the fire department.”
“A lot of people come to this community to see the covered bridges.”