Eastern Passage bridge next to popular Fisherman’s Cove to be replaced

A bridge in Eastern Passage, N.S., next to a restored 200-year-old fishing village is being replaced this year —  a project the area councillor says will make Fisherman’s Cove more accessible to pedestrians.

Work to replace the decades-old bridge on Shore Road will begin near the end of March and last roughly 22 weeks. It will require the closure of the bridge for about 10 weeks.

Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage Coun. Bill Karsten said the replacement was originally scheduled to take place last summer, to abide by regulated timelines set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to protect migratory fish.

But members of the community expressed concern about the closure of the small bridge during peak tourist season, hindering access to Fisherman’s Cove and its various shops and restaurants.

“That was just not acceptable, nor was it acceptable to me personally,” said Karsten.

Karsten said municipal staff then worked with DFO and the provincial Environment Department to come up with a new plan. 

The project also includes the installation of a new concrete sidewalk, the replacement of an existing asphalt sidewalk with a concrete sidewalk, and repaving a section of Shore Road from Cow Bay Road to Oceanlea Drive. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

Last fall, council approved $35,000 for research into whether a fish bypass —  a separate culvert that allows migratory fish to pass through — could be built so that construction could take place outside of the federally imposed timeline. 

The bypass was determined to be an option, and a tender for the project was issued last week.

The project also includes the installation of a new concrete sidewalk, the replacement of an existing asphalt sidewalk with a concrete sidewalk, and repaving a section of Shore Road from Cow Bay Road to Oceanlea Drive.

Karsten said currently, anyone who wants to walk to Fisherman’s Cove from the corner of Cow Bay Road and Shore Road on the water side must do so on the shoulder of the road.

“All of the buildings, if you can picture, are very close to the actual road as well, so it’s not that safe,” he said.

Karsten said there isn’t enough room to accommodate a sidewalk as is, and so the road is going to be moved over slightly away from the water, making Fisherman’s Cove more accessible and safe to access by pedestrians.

Government Wharf Road will remain open during construction. (Aly Thomson/CBC)

“The finished project is going to be a real plus and quite frankly, the plum on top of the whole thing is that sidewalk on the water side,” he said.

“This is a necessary project for safety reasons and will be in place to benefit the community for years to come.”

Once the contract is awarded, council still needs to approve the budget. Karsten said it’s expected to cost over $1 million.

The municipality said the bridge — located between Francis Drive and Government Wharf Road — will likely be shut down for the 10 weeks between April and June.

Spokesperson Brynn Langille said traffic will detour through Caldwell Road, to Shore Road and up to Government Wharf Road. Government Wharf Road will remain open during construction.

The bridge is then expected to partially open to one lane of traffic. Work will be ongoing until the end of the summer.

Langille said it was determined the bridge needed replacement following an inspection by an engineering consultant.

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