AMHERST, N.S. – Detours around the Rainbow Bridge on Highway 2 near Amherst are expected to end by Oct. 31.
“As it stands, it looks like we’re going to have a bridge and be able to travel over top of it before Halloween this year,” said Tory Rushton, MLA for Cumberland South.
A tender for bridge construction was called on Feb. 7, and closes March 6.
“There is a deadline that the construction has to be complete by Oct. 31 of this year,” said Rushton.
The bridge was closed Dec. 8, 2017 after an inspection found a sag in the bridge after two bottom chords failed.
Since then, traffic has detoured along the Lower Porter Road and Smith Road, leaving many commuters wondering why construction didn’t start sooner.
“There’s been speculation (as to why it wasn’t done sooner) but I’ve tried to stay positive on it and keep pressure on minister Hines and keep communicating with him, and I think it’s reaped benefits,” said Rushton.
Rushton says pressure on Nova Scotia transportation minister Lloyd Hines also came from Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, MLA for Cumberland North, and from the citizens of Cumberland county in the form of petitions and letters.
“There was a great response from the community, even prior to my election last year,” said Rushton. “The community signed petitions and letters were sent out.”
At one point, there was speculation a new bridge wouldn’t be built until as late as 2022.
“When the five-year plan was discussed for all road work in Nova Scotia, I talked to staff and also sent a letter asking the minister to have this bridge replaced immediately,” said Rushton. “He was able to move it up to this construction season rather than a year or two down the road, which would have been very unfortunate.”
Rushton says it’s proof government and opposition can work together.
“I truly think this is a great example of how opposition can get things done,” said Rushton. “And this is one example where you give credit where credit is due. The minister worked hard to get the bridge going.”
He says the only way construction could be delayed is if tenders came in over budget.
“Then I’m back at the drawing board with the minister trying to find more budget money or trying to figure out where we go from here.”
Another area Rushton hopes government and opposition can work together is on the construction of the new elementary school in Springhill scheduled to open in 2021.
“I did get confirmation last week that the school is going forward,” said Rushton. “They have had meetings, but I would like to be involved in some of those meetings so I could take the information back to Cumberland County and say, ‘Hey, this is a positive thing.’”