Repairs to the historic Sable River footbridge are expected to begin soon.
The pedestrian suspension bridge has been closed since December 2017 after it was deemed unsafe for use by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR), which owns the structure.
Concerns from the community over the closure prompted discussions between the Municipality of Shelburne and TIR, which resulted in the Sable River Footbridge Ownership Agreement, ratified by municipal council at an April 23 meeting.
Under the agreement the province will be repairing the bridge over the next several months and then ownership will be transferred to the municipality.
“The Municipality of Shelburne is pleased to work with the province to ensure this unique and historical footbridge is brought back to a safe and useable standard and will once again form part of the Municipality’s active trails network,” said Warden Penny Smith.
The Sable River footbridge dates back to the early 1900s, is one of the last remaining pedestrian suspension bridges in the province, said Adam Dedrick, Director of Recreation and Parks for the Municipality.
“It’s very unique,” he said. “Locals use it a lot.”
TIR spokesperson Marla MacInnis said the department will be undertaking work in the near future to replace the bridge deck as well as the vertical cables supporting the deck, install a new handrail system, and repair and paint the steel towers.
“Once the work begins it is anticipated to take eight weeks and cost approximately $150,000,” she said.
The footbridge crosses the Sable River near the Sable River Fire Hall. There is a designated parking area for people wanting to experience the 800-m Footbridge Trail, said Dedrick, adding trail signage will likely be improved once the footbridge is repaired.
The Footbridge Trail is one of two recreational trails in the Sable River area, and one of four in the Municipality of Shelburne. The 1.2 km multi-use Tom Tigney Trail is also located in Sable River and connects with the Woodlands Multi-use Trail on both ends. The Municipality also has the Roseway River and Jordan Bay trails, which are used for walking and cycling.