A tale of one city, torn in two by aging bridge
MONTREAL -- An Eastern Townships town has been almost literally torn in two by the closing of a bridge, forcing some residents to take lengthy detours to get the basics.
Tourist town North Hatley is connected via a bridge over Lake Massawipi that has stood for 70 years. But the bridge's lifespan is at an end and a replacement is needed. On Monday, work began to dismantle the bridge. While a walking bridge gives access to each side of the town to cyclists and pedestrians, vehicles are now required to take a 20 kilometre detour.
“It's an extra maybe 15 minutes by car, but hey, in the big city sometimes it takes 15 minutes to get through a couple of streetlights,” said Mayor Michael Page. “We're fortunate to live in the country and the detour gets to be done in a relatively quick manner.”
Seasonal resident Lex Gallagher said the new route will take some getting used to.
“We're parking on one side, walking the kids over, so it's not a huge deal,” she said. “We've had time to prepare but still, I can't just zip out and run errands and get groceries like I could before.”
“It's just the inconvenience for those who are in vehicles and North Hatley is so small that those who live here are mostly walking or on their bike anyway, unless you're leaving town,” said Morgan Quinn.
However, Isabelle Lucier said she knows of one visitor to a local bed and breakfast who tried the detour, got lost and was forced to turn back.
“He saw the detour, he tried to go, he followed the signs, but there is one on the 143 that wasn't clear,” she said.
One concern is how emergency services will be able to respond quickly to fires on the other side of the bridge.
“It takes quite a bit of time, really, it's important to get the fire truck there as soon as possible,” said Alan Kezar.
Page assured residents that the town is working with the regional emergency services to ensure responses are as timely as possible.
The new bridge is scheduled to be completed by December.