Riverview calls for community engagement ahead of expected six-month causeway closure in 2021

The causeway connecting Moncton to Riverview, shown in this Oct. 26, 2020 file photo, is expected to be closed for six months while a new bridge is built. Callum Smith / Global News

An approximate six-month closure of a main artery connecting Moncton and Riverview is less than a year away.

The causeway will shutter as work is completed on the new bridge spanning across the Petitcodiac River.

Prior to COVID-19, 27, 000 people use the causeway daily, according to numbers from the Town of Riverview. That will double the amount of traffic on the Gunningsville Bridge when traffic gets diverted in May 2021.

People are already thinking about the headaches they say will come with the closure.

Workers continue to construct a bridge that was previously delayed. The bridge is now expected to open in November 2021. Callum Smith / Global News

“I’d sooner bike than wait an hour in traffic to get 20 minutes,” says Corey Sanford, who commutes to and from Moncton three times daily for work.

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Motorist Peter Rees also frequently ventures across the river. He spent part of his day off Monday standing on the walking path near the causeway, taking in the action.

“I’m absolutely amazed with the amount of trucks traffic and the dozers that are working and the cubic metres of fill they’re moving.”

Read more: Fire chief calls for calm among N.B. drivers as Petitcodiac causeway construction gets underway

He knows traffic will likely get backed up when the estimated May 1, 2021 closure is in effect, but is trying to keep his sights set on the future.

“I think we have to be a little inconvenienced to go forward,” Rees tells Global News.

“We shouldn’t have dammed up the tidal river back in the 60s… It was a mistake,” he says. “But now we’re moving forward and I think people will enjoy the natural phenomena of the tide coming and the tide leaving twice a day. We can’t block tidal rivers… not by today’s standards.”

Riverview Mayor has voiced concern about the project, but is looking forward to the environmental impacts.

Prior to COVID-19, 27,000 motorists used the causeway daily, according to figures from the Town of Riverview. Callum Smith / Global News

“It’ll be lovely to have (the bridge), but it’s taking the channel back to where it originally was and helping the environment,” she says.

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The Town of Riverview has launched a campaign called ‘PetitcodiACTION – Moving with You.’ They’re encouraging community feedback from citizens and businesses during a virtual discussion November 4, 2020, 4-6 p.m.

“This gives (people) an opportunity to voice concerns,” Seamans says. While big infrastructure projects are provincial jurisdiction, Seamans says “you never know” what could come out of the consultation.

Read more: Timeline: New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac River

The cost of the project has previously been said to be about $62 million, to be split between the federal and provincial governments.

“The new bridge should be open in November 2021,” says a statement from Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jill Green. “The department continues to monitor the site to ensure work is done on time.”

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