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Closed bridge in Springville causing delays in first response time

Since 2018 this bridge in Springville has been closed because of safety concerns.
Since 2018 this bridge in Springville has been closed because of safety concerns. - Brendan Ahern
SPRINGVILLE, N.S. —

Nearly two years after closing, the Springville bridge remains inaccessible. For anyone familiar with the area the seven kilometre detour through to the nearest crossing in the hamlet of Bridgeville has become a routine.

But for emergency first responders, the extra time it takes to cross the river is always a concern.

“Five to six minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but when you’re a first responder five-minutes can make a big difference,” said Jason McIntyre.

McIntyre is the captain of the East River Valley Fire Department located on route 343.

With the Bridgeville crossing not far from their station, McIntyre says that the detour mostly affects first responders providing mutual aid from the nearby Plymouth and Eureka fire departments.

“If we have a call on the west side of the river and we have Plymouth coming out with a tanker, then they have to go all the way around,” said McIntyre.

Back in 2015, the bridge was closed temporarily for some minor repairs which resulted in a reduced weight limit from 20 tonnes to 10. Since then, fire departments operating in the area have been unable to cross the Springville bridge with their tankers.

It’s not only fire fighters responding in the area who have to factor in the detour time.

“Sometimes we have an ambulance responding to a call in Sunny Brae coming from as far out as Port Hawkesbury or Truro,” said McIntyre. “It’s happened before where they have come in from Plymouth and the bride is out so they have to go around to Bridgeville.”

McIntyre also says that poor reception doesn’t help matters when responders unfamiliar with the area come to the closed bridge.

“GPS takes them one way and ‘holly crop the bridge is closed,’ then because the reception isn’t always great the GPS won’t reset.”

In 2018 inspectors with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure noted movement in one of the bridge abutments and the bridge was closed for safety reasons. At the time, the Department could not say when it would reopen.

Recently, TIR told The News that an assessment of the bridge has been completed and that an announcement will be made in Dec, 2019.

“Government intends to include the bridge in the upcoming Fire Year Highway Improvement Plan,” said TIR spokesperson Peter McLaughlin.

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