Council concerned repairs may not solve leakage issue
PARRSBORO – Long-awaited repairs to the bridge over Parrsboro’s aboiteau appear ready to move ahead this summer, but town council is concerned the work may not solve the problem of water leaking under the structure.
Council asked CAO Ray Hickey at its April 23 session to enter into further negotiations with the provincial department of transportation and infrastructure renewal to make sure this aspect of the problem is included in the repair project, which is expected to go to tender in June.
“They are looking for the town to contribute something to the repair costs,” said Hickey. “I think council is favourable to doing that, as long as it makes it happen, but part of the concern is the proposal, as presented, wouldn’t do enough to stop the flow of water from going under the bridge.”
The proposed repairs would see armour rock installed around the base of the structure, which would stop erosion of the bridge itself, according to Hickey, but he said water would continue to flow through the armour rock and the problem of leakage would continue.
Low water levels in the aboiteau have been a contentious issue for several years, as the area normally filled with water has often become little more than an unsightly muddy area. Concerns have been raised by townspeople over the loss of wildlife habitat, and the negative aesthetic impact.
The continued delay of the problem is not sitting well with Mayor Lois Smith, who announced last year that the province had committee to fixing the bridge at no cost to the town. To learn that the repairs would not necessarily resolve the low water issue has not been taken well by her and council.
“We were all disappointed, because it’s not what we were told in October,” she said. “We knew there would be repairs to the bridge, but we also thought we would have that problem solved at this moment. Ray is still negotiating with them.”
The priority of the provincial department is to make sure vehicles can safely pass over the bridge, Hickey explained, but he added that they were “not totally against” resolving the leakage issue.
“So I think where we’re going back with it is to say the town is OK with going along with (contributing some funding) as long as some additional steps are taken to keep the flow of water from going through,” he said.
Hickey added that the province plans to replace the entire bridge structure in a few years.