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Multi-million dollar plan to give Seal Island Bridge more life

By Steve MacArthur Dec 19, 2023 | 2:04 PM

Work is underway on a multi-year plan that will extend the life of the Seal Island Bridge in Cape Breton by as many as 15 years.

The iconic green span in Victoria County might eventually be replaced by a new bridge built adjacent to the current structure. However, this fix-up plan will give government options.

The rehabilitation plan for the bridge, which first opened in 1961 and cost $4.6 million to build, follows the recommendations of a recently completed benefit-cost analysis that started in 2021.

“We understand how important this infrastructure is for the people of Cape Breton and those travelling to and from the island,” said Public Works Minister Kim Masland. “Safety will always be our number 1 concern with provincial infrastructure, and this work will help keep the bridge safe for many years to come.”

A tender for the first of several projects under the plan was issued in November. The work is expected to be completed by 2027, with inspections and routine maintenance ongoing.

The analysis also reviewed several options for replacing the bridge. That information will be reviewed by the government as it considers next steps.

Officials close to the project believe a new bridge will take about 10 years for consultation, planning, design and construction.

According to the province, work to fix up the bridge right now will be in the “tens of millions” cost range.