January 17, 2019 6:39 pm
Updated: January 17, 2019 7:12 pm

New Brunswick’s covered bridges and river ferries under review

WATCH: New Brunswick's iconic covered bridges are under review. The government says it's trying to determine whether the 54 remaining bridges in the province can be restored and how much that may cost. Callum Smith explains.

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New Brunswick’s iconic covered bridges and its river ferries are under review.

The government says it’s trying to determine whether the 54 remaining provincially-owned covered bridges can be restored using wood products, and how much that may cost.

When accidents happen or wear and tear takes its toll, they can either get fixed, replaced with more modern structures, or left alone.

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“Of those 54, there’s only 42 that are actually operational on the highway system,” says Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Bill Oliver. “The other 12 have been mothballed or moved to the side of the road.”

“We need to protect these 54 bridges that are still in operation in the province,” he says.

READ MORE: New Brunswick residents rally to save province’s beloved ‘kissing bridges’

Specifically, five bridges in the southern region will be reviewed by Timber Restoration Services, an engineering company based in New Brunswick, to see if they can be fixed with wood and how much that would cost.

The cost for the review is expected to be between $400,000 to $440,000, according to Oliver.

The government says there were roughly 340 covered bridges in the 1950s, but they’re becoming harder to find.

“Besides Quebec, we’re the only province in Canada to have covered bridges remaining,” says Marion Beyea, who is the president of Association Heritage New Brunswick.

“I believe B.C. has a couple that they’ve built lately because they are very useful practical structures.”

The transportation minister says while replacing them with more modern structures would be the simple solution, but it might not save any money.

Marion Beyea, who is the president of Association Heritage New Brunswick, says the province is one of two across Canada to hold on to remaining covered bridges

Megan Yamoah / Global News

“I don’t think it’s any cheaper, no,” he says. “But I think it’s an easier way to go.”

Beyea is hoping a solution will be found.

“I’m optimistic that a way will be found to preserve them and their importance will be appreciated,” she says.

READ MORE: Cherryvale, N.B. residents rally over need for new bridge, demand meeting with province

While Oliver says the covered bridges are a daily commute for some motorists, it’s also important to review them — and river ferries — for a tourism strategy.

“It’s very much a part of that strategy,” he says. “We want to look at the covered bridges and the ferry systems, so that people when we get them off the four-lane highways, they have something to go to.”

The initial review of the five bridges is “expected to take place in the next four-to-six weeks,” according to Oliver.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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