Temporary bridge satisfies committee’s concerns

Bonnie Belec
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Construction on Carnell Drive wraps up until after Regatta

A temporary pedestrian crossing is now in place on Carnell Drive next to Quidi Vidi Lake in time for the upcoming St. John’s Regatta. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

The city of St. John’s and the Royal St. John’s Regatta committee are making the best of a tricky situation.

The city has to replace the

$3-million bridge on Carnell Drive and the committee has a major event — that could see up to 50,000 people around Quidi Vidi Lake — to put off in four days.

“We, of course, from a Regatta committee perspective would have preferred if the construction would have taken place at a different time, but understanding the requirements of the project and the critical time period in which to do it, there was no other choice,” said Regatta committee president Don Kelly.

The city called a tender for the replacement of the bridge in June, but according to St. John’s Coun. Danny Breen, whose ward takes in the lake, the construction couldn’t begin until after the middle of June. The project is expected to be finished in November.

“We can only work in the waterways after mid-June under the federal Department of Fisheries regulations because of the spawning season, so we had no choice,” said Breen. “It has to be done and whatever year it’s done it’s going to have to go over Regatta Day. So it’s not like we did it during the Regatta by choice; it’s the only way it can be done.”

He said the $3 million includes the cost of a temporary bridge.

Recognizing the event as one of the biggest attractions in the city, Breen said city staff, the Regatta committee and the construction company have worked together to come up with a way to try to avoid as much disruption for patrons and concessionaires as possible.

“So we’re in the process of completing a temporary bridge to allow for flow on Regatta Day of people back and forth on both sides of the lake,” said Breen.

“Now there’s still going to be some disruptions. There’s still going to be some congestion there, but we’ve taken steps to shut down the construction starting (Friday), and we have a temporary bridge just about finished and then after Regatta Day, everything will go back up again and we’ll start construction again,” he said.

With the work completed so far, Breen said, workers were able to build a temporary wooden structure over the top of the bridge which will then be easily removed after the event.

“I must say everyone has been very co-operative and I think they all understand the expectations and requirements of the committee,” Kelly told The Telegram Friday.

“I think from a pedestrian perspective it will be just as good, if not better, than previous years. Some of the approaches have been widened and graded off. So we’re pleased with a situation that we had to accept, of course,” he said.

During the Regatta, now in its 195th year, Carnell Drive bridge is only open to pedestrians, but it would still have caused too much disruption to block it off altogether, said Breen, adding a plan is in place for emergency vehicles if they are needed.

Kelly said there’s never been a problem for emergency response vehicles getting through on Regatta Day if they are called.

He said the fire department is well aware of the temporary bridge and even if they were called they probably wouldn’t use Carnell Drive as an access anyway.

“I would suggest they would never come across that way because that would be the most densely populated access. So, this won’t really impact them,” said Kelly.

Breen said the need to replace the bridge was identified a few years ago as part of the city’s flood mitigation program. He said aside from the bridge being old, it has to be made bigger so more water can flow through without causing flooding.

On Friday construction staff were packing up equipment and shutting down the site until after the Regatta.

 

 bbelec@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Regatta committee, Department of Fisheries

Geographic location: Quidi Vidi Lake

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