‘Very frustrating’: Locals awaiting new bridge near Lunenburg, N.S. after 1.5 years and counting

Click to play video: 'Bridge near Lunenburg, N.S. out of commission for over a year'
Bridge near Lunenburg, N.S. out of commission for over a year
A bridge near Lunenburg, N.S. has been out of commission for a year and a half now. Locals and businesses are frustrated by how long the process has taken. It’s even been a factor in the decision of a local pub to shut down. The provincial government says the work is overdue. Callum Smith reports. – Jul 12, 2023

A bridge closure near Lunenburg, N.S., is frustrating locals and is a contributing factor in a local restaurant’s decision to close up shop.

The Indian Path Bridge connects Lunenburg to Riverport, but hasn’t been accessible since December 2021. The aging bridge was reduced to one lane and had weight restrictions imposed before officially closing to all traffic.

Crews are nearing completion on a new bridge, but locals are frustrated with how long it has taken.

The detour can be upwards of 14 minutes or 14 kilometres.

“It’s very frustrating, it’s troublesome, it’s costly, our gas costs a lot more now,” says Laura Roblee, a Bayport resident. “It’s worrisome in terms of getting emergency vehicles into the area.”

Only a few minutes away from the bridge, the well-known Bayport Pub has announced it’s closing.

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Laura Roblee, a Bayport resident, says the crew is working hard, but continuous delays to complete the bridge replacement have been frustrating and costly. Callum Smith / Global News

The co-owner of the local eatery is blaming three factors for forcing the difficult decision, one of which is the bridge closure.

“We’re now sitting at the dead end of a detour,” says Jeff Pelkey.

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The other two reasons are perhaps more relatable to other small businesses: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently, inflation.

“It’s just a trifecta for us,” Pelkey says. “It’s made it impossible to continue.”

The pub’s last day is Sunday and the building is up for sale. The owners will fully devote their attention to other businesses on the South Shore.

But for people living near the bridge, there’s a sense of understanding despite the frustration.

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“I’ve learned to accept it because what else can you do?” asks Roblee.

“I think we’re going to have a very good bridge, and I think the men who are working on it are working very hard, but there have been so, so many hold-ups.”

Jeff Pelkey, a co-owner of the Bayport Pub, says the bridge closure was one of three factors in making the difficult decision to close this Sunday. Callum Smith / Global News

A contractor on site tells Global News the bridge replacement is significant and does take time, but says additional delays include raising both power lines and telecommunication lines for the work to be done.

He also says post-tropical storm Fiona pulled resources away from the bridge to focus on other areas in the province.

Kim Masland, Nova Scotia’s Public Works Minister, says raising the utility lines is the only reason she’s aware of for the delay.

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“We’re a year behind (schedule),” she says.

“I certainly did everything I could to make sure that they got in there as quickly as they could, but I do not control Nova Scotia Power or the internet companies.”

The cost of the new bridge is pegged at about $6.5 million.

Concrete will be poured on the deck Thursday and barrier wall and road work approaching the bridge will follow.

The Indian Path Bridge has been out of commission since December 2021. Crews are nearing completion on a new bridge, but locals are frustrated with how long it has taken. Callum Smith / Global News

“We are back on track and I’m very happy to see that we’ll be opening this bridge sometime in late August or early September,” Masland says.

Locals are also eagerly awaiting the reopening of the bridge.

“It’s going to be great for the residents on the Bayport side of the bridge,” says Pam Mossman, who started a Facebook group to help keep people updated on the project.

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The new Indian Path Bridge is expected to open in late August or early September, according to Public Works Minister Kim Masland. Ken Montgomery / Global News

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