BAYPORT - Jubilant motorists and politicians revelled in the long-awaited opening of the Indian Path Bridge, a span near Lunenburg that's been closed for nearly two years.
The original deadline was missed and timelines promised by elected officials came and went but, on Oct. 19, none of this mattered anymore to Bayport area residents who celebrated the bridge's re-opening and appreciated resuming their ordinary travel patterns.
Pam Mossman, who lives near the Highway 332 crossing, was one who drove her vehicle across when the span opened at around 5 p.m. She created a social media page to communicate updates concerning the bridge work and the local MLA, Susan Corkum-Greek, also used the page to post information.
Mossman said motorists were in a good mood on Oct. 19.
"People were smiling; you could see how happy people were just to have it open again," she said in a phone interview. "We had our own grand re-opening; it was a ball."
The old 55-metre-long structure crossing Indian Path Harbour was originally built in the 1950s. Initially pegged by government to be a rehabilitation project, circumstances changed the scenario when provincial officials took a closer look at the span and realized there was a more expensive safety issue at play.
The department concluded that replacing the bridge made more sense due to its age, design and condition. The bridge was closed and removed in December 2021.
The $6 million tender to replace the span wasn't awarded until March 2022. The scheduled completion date was Oct. 31 of that year.
When that deadline was missed, Corkum-Greek said she was optimistic the job would finish by year end. When that plan fell short, she figured it would be completed before summer's end in 2023.
That did not happen and Queens MLA and Public Works Minister Kim Masland offered an "August/September" timeframe, which also missed the mark.
In an interview following an unrelated news conference, Masland declined to name names when it came to who messed up with a job that ended up nearly a year overdue.
Several repair projects undertaken by the province are encountering similar problems like with what happened with Indian Path Bridge, she said.
"There were internet lines that had to be moved and there was also a power line that had to be moved, or power pole that had to be moved," Masland explained about the Bayport work.
"We are trying to collaborate and explain to these providers how important it is that they're on the job quickly as we are to make sure those things are moved. Many of our jobs are held up just because we're waiting for lines to be moved. It's frustrating. Print that."
Owners of the Bayport Pub blamed "the closure of the bridge, on the back of a two-year pandemic" as "too much for our little pub to handle," for its decision to shutter in July of this year.
The bridge project "did not go as planned," Corkum-Greek said in a phone interview and officials are examining how to avoid such circumstances from being repeated elsewhere.
In the meantime, "we're very grateful to have this renewed structure that will serve well into the future."
Mossman said she's happy for Indian Path Road property owners who don't have to deal with the extra detour traffic and other motorists who won't have to spend more on energy to take a longer way around.
She thanked the workers on site for their efforts.
"They were respectful; they always made sure I could get in-and-out of my driveway and they're going to make sure my property is put back together."
There will be a formal event in the future acknowledging the re-opening of the bridge, Corkum-Greek said, "so I hope to gather with the community to mark that occasion."