Modular bridge to replace damaged covered bridge in southern N.B.

The province says a 104-year-old covered bridge in southern New Brunswick will be replaced with a modular bridge, which should open by January.

The Hammond River Covered Bridge in French Village has been out of commission since October, when an overweight excavator crashed through the bottom of it.

Work to repair the bridge revealed significant wood rot, which the province says compromises the structural integrity of the century-old span.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser says removing the covered bridge was a difficult decision to make.

"However, in talking to residents, it became quite clear that restoring this transportation link took priority over preserving the covered bridge," Fraser said in a statement.

The province said it had two options to install a modular bridge: on the existing seats of the covered bridge, or next to the existing covered bridge.

Fraser said most of those who attended a recent public meeting supported option one, which he said will restore the link across the Hammond River sooner.

Work on installing the new modular bridge is expected to begin immediately.