Major rehabilitation work on Prince Edward County’s Skyway Bridge is expected to begin on March 4.
Preliminary work on the structure began in 2018 after Aecon Construction and Materials, Ltd., was awarded a $63-million contract by the Ministry of Transportation to work on the bridge, which is located on County Road 49 and was originally built in 1967.
Some of the forthcoming work on the Skyway Bridge includes replacement of the structure’s girders and decks along with some rehabilitation of the areas approaching the bridge.
Work will be done in sections, and the bridge will be reduced to one lane during the construction period.
This reduction is expected to cause delays for regular commuters on the bridge and impact tourists coming from areas east of Prince Edward County.
County Mayor Steve Ferguson hopes that traffic signals, advertisements, regular updates on the rehabilitation project and bilingual signs posted as far away as Highway 401 will help to minimize the impact of the lane reduction on the bridge.
According to Ferguson, Prince Edward County attracts many tourists from Quebec, a number that’s “in the hundreds of thousands,” the mayor said.
Ferguson added that there will be some closures of the bridge, but only at night, and the county is pushing to have the hours of the provincially run Glenora Ferry extended to help reduce the inconvenience of such closures.
The Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce represents 250 business owners in the area, and its president, Sandy Latchford, says business owners are concerned about the lengthy construction but also pragmatic.
Early on in the planning phase, the county considered a number of options, including closing the bridge entirely and building a second bridge next to the existing one, explained Latchford.
“That’s a very expensive option, and it would be disruptive to the people living there,” she added.
Latchford says no one likes the idea of traffic delays but that with one lane kept open, tourists and residents will still be able to use the bridge.
“Yes, it’s going to slow them down a bit but it’s still flowing, and I think that, to me, is the the key. The traffic will still flow,” said Latchford.
When work on the bridge ceases during the winter months, it will return to two lanes.
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