An excavator has fallen through one of New Brunswick’s oldest bridges.

The piece of heavy equipment was a bit too heavy for the 104-year-old Hammond River covered Bridge #2. The deck of the bridge gave way, and the 12,000 kilogram machine plunged to the riverbank below.

Work crews spent most of the day figuring out what to do next.

"Damage to the bridge is being assessed. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is working on a plan to safely remove the excavator," said the transportation department in a statement.

But it may be easier said than done. The arm of the excavator seems to be caught on one of the floor support beams.

The incident occurred as the excavator was carrying a load of new timbers for a new floor.

Fortunately, the operator was not injured in the accident. He was able to get out of the excavator and back up on the road by himself. He was taken to the hospital but just as a precaution.

Built in 1912, the bridge is 55 meters in length. It is one of 60 covered bridges still standing – a symbol of the province and part of the community.

"Probably all of our initials are in there somewhere. You know, growing up, hanging out," said French Village resident Susan Walsh. 

People who live nearby use the bridge as a route to get to Saint John. A detour takes about 20 minutes to complete.

"They were just going to put the floor in in three weeks, but now, it looks a little longer," said Walsh.

Just how much longer is unclear.  Before the scheduled repairs can begin on the bridge, the unscheduled work needs to be done, removing the excavator without causing further damage to the historic structure.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.