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N.B. residents still seeking answers after excavator crashes through covered bridge
An excavator that crashed through the bottom of a 104-year-old covered bridge in New Brunswick a week ago is still hanging from a beam as the province’s Transportation Department tries to figure out how to remove it.
The Hammond River Covered Bridge is one of 60 covered bridges still standing and is a symbol of the province and part of the community.
Residents of French Village, N.B. say they want to know how it happened in the first place, but no one seems to know the answer.
Some of the old floorboards were to be restored and the excavator was entering the bridge with a load of timber when it crashed through the floor last Wednesday.
The project was supposed to take about three weeks, but that deadline will have to be extended.
“It was up there. It had wood in it. The thing was too heavy,” says French Village, N.B. resident Wayne Parsons. “It gave way and it couldn’t handle the weight. The boards were rotten.”
Clarence Ball, a covered-bridge enthusiast who lives in the area, says he doesn’t understand how it happened.
“They are historical landmarks and they’re a very important part of our history,” says Ball of the covered bridge.
“I heard that the excavator was 13 tonnes and it was already carrying a load of wood to go through the bridge and there is signage everywhere, there is signage leading up to the bridge, there is a sign on the bridge – 12 tonnes – so I have no idea who was operating the excavator, why they thought they could push that through.”
All work to remove the excavator has to go through WorkSafeNB before anything can be done. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is planning to install a temporary support under the bridge so work can begin.
They expect the excavator won’t be removed until later this week.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Blackford