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Searletown residents worried about safety of local bridge

Searletown resident David McKenna has expressed concern about the condition of a busy bridge on Route 10. The structure was recently closed for repairs and reopened a few days later, though weight limits remain.
Searletown resident David McKenna has expressed concern about the condition of a busy bridge on Route 10. The structure was recently closed for repairs and reopened a few days later, though weight limits remain. - Colin MacLean

SEARLETOWN, P.E.I. - When David McKenna sits at his kitchen table there is an irregular, but persistent, sound.

“Thump thump, thump thump,” drifts in through the open window.

The sound is of vehicles travelling over the small Searletown bridge, which is a stone’s throw from McKenna’s home on Route 10.

The sound is something he has lived with for the nearly 70 years he’s lived in the community, but it has become more pronounced recently since provincial crews showed up to make emergency repairs. A hole in the wooden structure’s asphalt covering had formed and needed to be filled.

McKenna reported the hole to the province. Traffic was temporarily restricted to one lane and weight restrictions were added.

Both lanes were reopened to traffic after the repairs, but weight restrictions will remain until further notice. Nothing with an axle weight above 4,500 kg, or a gross weight above 5,500 kg is allowed.

This most recent incident was not the first time McKenna expressed concern about the bridge to the province.

He and some of his neighbours have been asking for it to be replaced for several years, he said.

“It’s just outlived its usefulness. It’s rotting out. I know they did tests on it in the last couple of years and said it was solid, no problem and all this stuff. But I mean it was put there in 1957, so – nothing lasts forever,” said McKenna.

Borden-Kinkora MLA Jamie Fox has also been pushing to have the bridge replaced and said he’s heard from many residents who are concerned.

Fox said he also has concerns about the condition of other bridges in the province and recently asked for a list of the bridges and their conditions. He’s hoping to have those documents back within the next few weeks.

A Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy spokesperson said the Searletown bridge’s wing walls, which are the walls holding back the earth on either side of the stream, are exhibiting signs of stress.

The spokesperson added the “structure is still reasonably sound” and planning for a replacement structure is in the preliminary stages.

McKenna welcomed the news but added he won’t hold his breath until it’s done.

“When they say ‘preliminary stages’ that’s scary,” he said.


@JournalPMacLean

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