Viewing platforms on Fredericton walking bridge to remain closed indefinitely

The viewing platforms on the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge will remain closed indefinitely, according to the City of Fredericton.

All three platforms were closed back on July 21, with the city saying the temporary closure was a 'safety precaution'.

But in a news release on Tuesday, the city said a structural review found that the platforms should remain closed until they're replaced or repaired.

"The presence of rot in the deck boards and railings is believed to have greatly reduced the platforms' ability to carry the weight they were originally designed for," the release stated.

Don Murray, who manages the city's parks and trees division, told our newsroom on July 21 that the closure followed a routine safety inspection earlier that week.

"We went on the viewing platforms to have a look, and the downriver one, the railing was really loose and you could shake it and move it quite a bit," Murray said. "So we immediately closed that one."

After more discussions, Murray said they had concerns about the two upriver platforms, and decided to close those as well.

Officials will consider what to do with the platforms as part of the repair work planned for the bridge over the next couple of years.

"Please note that these conclusions and recommendations are specific to the viewing platforms, and that the walking deck of the bridge continues to be safe for use by the public," said the city's news release. "In the meantime, barriers remain in place and residents are asked to stay off the viewing platforms."

Walking bridge in need of overhaul

Documents obtained by CTV Atlantic last year show the city and the province have been studying the condition of the bridge since the summer of 2015.

The documents show that two piers on the retrofitted train bridge have advanced concrete deterioration and the wood ties are rotting.

Mayor Mike O'Brien told CTV Atlantic in July 2016 that the wood decking also needs to be replaced.

O'Brien said the work could cost as much as $4 million, adding that the province has agreed to share the cost when things are finalized.

According to Murray, the city is hopeful it can get a solid design for the replacement of the wooden deck for 2018.

With files from CTV Atlantic