Fredericton will need a 3rd bridge in 10 years, councillor says

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A Fredericton city councillor wants to see a third bridge built across the St. John River to alleviate traffic congestion as the city of 58,000 grows.

With the population expected to grow 1,000 a year over the next 25 years, the city and the province should start planning now for another bridge, says Coun. Bruce Grandy.

"People are going to have to plan for, not Toronto-type things, but pretty close," said Grandy, chair of the city's development committee,

Grandy said the third bridge would be needed by 2029.

"I'm not saying we need to do this today, but you know the provincial government has a responsibility to construct bridges and maintain and wants a new bridge, what it would look like," he said.

Bridge sees 52,000 vehicles a day 

Right now, Grandy said, the Westmorland Street Bridge, the city's primary bridge, sees about 52,000 vehicles a day. About 28,500 vehicles a day used the bridge in 1982, a year after it opened. 

"Our research shows that's the busiest stretch of provincial highway in the province," he said. 

When using the Westmorland Street Bridge or the Princess Margaret Bridge, it typically takes 10 to 15 minutes for drivers to get to and from work, Grandy said.

Some days, that time has increased up to 20 to 30 minutes because of construction, accidents and, in the past two years, spring flooding

Wants MLAs, councillors to meet

Grandy says he's hopeful city councillors and MLAs can sit down together and talk about the possibility of a third bridge and the priorities for both the city and the province.

He said there have already been talks with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure about constructing a bridge from the Douglas area, on the north side of the city, the top of the Woodstock Road on the south side.

Grandy, who is seeking provincial and federal funding for the project, said the construction of bridges and their maintenance is typically the province's responsibility. 

The province has already committed to a $61.6-million project to replace the causeway connecting Riverview and Moncton. The project, which started in 2017 was expected to be completed in the fall 2020. But because of financial pressures, the project has been pushed back to 2021.

"Depending who's the people in the caucus, that are major players, [they] control where things go," he said. 

CBC News has asked the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure for an interview and is waiting for a response.