Jimmy Gates is tired of driving around the Joggin.
He lives on Shelburne Road and since the Department of Transportation closed the Acacia Valley bridge in early September, he’s been driving the extra 12 kilometres through Lansdowne Smith’s Cove.
“We don’t mind the bridge being fixed,” he said Oct. 2. “Two weeks, we can see that. But no one has worked on the bridge in weeks. And now they’re saying two more months? This is getting ridiculous.”
Gates says he saw the work crews do about four days of sand blasting and other prep work like removing guardrails and curbs but since then – nothing.
He says it's not just the two-dozen residents but also the mail delivery and the school bus are having to drive around all this time.
“The school bus comes to the bottom of the road (just before the bridge on the Ridge side) and has to do a thirteen point turn down there,” he said. “Then he has to drive all the way out and back around this side to drop off another student.”
Gates doesn’t know why, if they aren’t working on the bridge, why they can’t have it open to small vehicles.
“Send the big rock trucks around but let the little vehicles use it,” he said.
Department of Transportation spokesperson Pamela Menchenton says the bridge won’t be open again until Nov. 29.
She said workers only realized the full extent of repairs required when they started the work.
“While undergoing repairs to replace the bridge bearings, workers noticed the pins or connections at four corners that hold up the bridge needed to be replaced,” she wrote in an email. “The department decided to replace the connections now while repairs were already underway.”
That work will require lifting the entire span with a crane and Menchenton says part of the delay is waiting to make sure it is safe to use a crane there.
“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is obtaining power line clearance from Nova Scotia Power and work will begin again once safe clearance is confirmed,” she said.
Menchenton says the bridge is safe and in good shape.
“Replacing these connections along with regularly scheduled maintenance and repairs means it will continue to be safe for many years to come,” she said.
She said however the bridge is not safe at the moment because work to some steel components of the bridge was started but not completed.
“Until all the repairs are complete the bridge must necessarily be closed to traffic, including small vehicle passenger vehicles,” she said.
She says workers are fabricating some new steel components off-site so work can continue as quickly as possible once the bridge is removed.
Update Monday, Oct. 7: A crane has arrived on site and crews are pouring a concrete pad for the bridge to work from.