Residents around the Northport area have been dealing with a major inconvenience for more than a year since the bridge that connected one side of the community to the other was replaced.
The new $5.6-million Northport Bridge was quietly reopened late Wednesday afternoon, almost eight months after it was supposed to be completed. As much as residents are breathing a sigh of relief that their lengthy detour around the Mud Creek Road will no longer be part of their daily regimen, they deserve some answers as to what went wrong with this project and what steps are going to be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again somewhere else.
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Bill Estabrooks was quick Thursday to credit the patience of Northport residents during their ordeal and was quite apologetic for the inconvenience and the frustration they felt.
More importantly, the minister said lessons have been learned at Northport that his department will use the next time it takes part in a major bridge project. As much as his department prides itself on getting the job done, he admitted that the ball was dropped and it was Northport residents who paid the price.
The minister, who uses the bridge on the way to his cottage on Prince Edward Island, vented his frustrations several weeks ago and repeated that on Thursday when he said there’s no excuse for the frequent delays to the project.
While things will quickly return to normal in Northport with the opening of the new bridge, in time for the reopening of classes at Northport Elementary, it’s not something that should be forgotten.
It has been a rough couple of years for people in this community after a project to replace a culvert at Annabelle’s Creek in nearby Amherst Shore two summers ago took much longer to complete while traffic was again detoured early in 2010 when the province decided to barricade the former bridge over structural concerns.
Now that the new bridge is open we can hope the minister is true to his word and will take the lessons learned at Northport and apply them elsewhere so no one has to go through was residents in this community have had to face.