A newly opened replacement bridge in Lantz, N.S., is being welcomed by residents who say it will not only make travel more convenient but will also decrease response times for fire trucks during emergencies.
The replacement two-lane bridge was opened on Jan. 15.
Hydes Bridge, a one-lane bridge on Highway 277 that spans the Shubenacadie River, was closed by the province in November 2019 for safety reasons.
During the bridge closure, people driving between the Halifax Regional Municipality side of Lantz and the East Hants side had to use a detour via Dutch Settlement Road, Elmsdale Road and Trunk 2.
Patrick Pickles, who runs an engine repair shop in the area and served with the fire department there for 32 years, said the detour took several minutes longer, which could pose problems during an emergency.
"For fire service, it was a hindrance because it delayed any mutual aid," Pickles said. "The big concern over the years was fire mutual aid between Elmsdale, Lantz and Dutch Settlement because we rely on them quite a bit."
The bridge provides a critical connection between two sides of the Lantz community, according to the East Hants MLA. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)
Pickles's relief is shared by John A. MacDonald, the MLA for East Hants. He said not having the bridge added 20 minutes or more to fire response times in some cases.
MacDonald said getting the old bridge replaced was essential for the community.
"There's Lantz HRM and Lantz East Hants and that bridge is a vital link between them," MacDonald said.
"When it was out, yeah, we basically disconnected the Lantz community and now they're back together."
MacDonald said the bridge is safe, but it will close for two weeks in summer so that some technical work can be completed.
Some residents are concerned that the new bridge may not be high enough to deal with high river levels. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)
Pickles noted the height of the new bridge is quite a bit lower than the bridge it replaced. He said that may be an issue when the river rises as it has done in the past.
MacDonald said he has heard concerns about the height of the bridge from a number of residents and has written to Public Works asking about it.
Another concern raised by the community, according to MacDonald, is the lack of a pedestrian walkway on the new bridge.
He said he has also asked Public Works engineers to explain that decision. There was no walkway on the old bridge.
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