Bishop’s Bridge reconstruction likely to close College for the summer

By Gordon Lambie
Bishop’s Bridge reconstruction likely to close College for the summer

There’s traffic trouble ahead for Lennoxville. According to Lennoxville Borough President David Price, the ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l’Électrification des transports (MTQ), Quebec’s transportation ministry, has given unofficial notice that the Bishop’s Bridge on College Street will be down to one lane from June 6 to 18, and closed completely to traffic from June 18 to August 18.

“We have the unofficial time that they want to close down.” Price said, explaining that the ministry has informed the city, the university, and the Sherbrooke bus company while emphasizing that those start dates are not completely certain until the ministry announces the work publicly.

According to Price, the reason why the work is expected to take the better part of the summer is that the problematic deck of the bridge is being completely rebuilt.

“They’re going away from that experimental surface,” the Borough President said, referring to the sandwich plate system which was installed in 2005 and which has needed repair and reinforcement almost annually since that time.

Though Price acknowledged that there will be traffic problems, he expressed appreciation for the fact that the work is not supposed to start until after the Bishop’s Convocation, when the traffic back and forth across the bridge will be particularly high.

If the work does begin on the sixth of June, then it lines up directly with exam season at Alexander Galt Regional High School and this at the same time that Glenday Road, one of the possible detour routes to the school, has been closed between Bartlett Road and Mitchell Street for the installation of waterworks.

Upon consultation with the school and the board’s transportation director, Eastern Townships School Board communications consultant Sharon Priest said that Galt has received no official word from the MTQ, but is considering its options nonetheless.

“We have heard the rumours that the bridge could be down to one lane in June,” Priest said adding that, “we are examining the options and are looking into solutions to lessen the impact of students possibly arriving later at school.”

Price acknowledged the difficulty faced by the high school students, although he pointed out that with the dates given the bridge should still be partially open while the school’s Ministerial exams are going on. After that, he said, the work is supposed to be completed before the school year begins again.

“It’ll be a regular traffic tie-up as usual, but at least there’ll be back and forth on it,” The Borough President said. “After that it’s a complete shut down.”

Of greater concern to Price at this point is the fact that the MTQ has yet to confirm whether or not pedestrians will be able to use the bridge while it is closed.

“There’s no way you can close down College Street and not be able to at least walk to the campus,” he said. “That’s very disturbing.”

“There’s nothing solid, that’s the problem,” said Borough Councillor Claude Charron, saying that he has taken a large number of calls from concerned citizens. While explaining that there are negotiations currently taking place on the subject of the bridge work, he added that, “it’s not easy with the MTQ.”

According to Price, a meeting has been scheduled for Friday morning to clarify the details of the work to come.

Dominique Gosselin, communications agent with the Estrie offices of the MTQ told The Record that she could not provide an official clarification on the nature of the work on the bridge, how long it will be going on, or what is planned in terms of detours at this time. Asked about when the information will be publically available, she simply said “as soon as possible.”

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