No estimate on reopening damaged bridge blocking the Trans-Canada

NIPIGON, Ont. -- An Ontario cabinet minister will inspect a damaged bridge today that has indefinitely blocked traffic on that section of the Trans-Canada Highway.

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Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle will get a first hand look at the Nipigon River bridge and get an update from engineers who are accessing the extent of the damage and how long it will take to repair.

The province's transportation ministry issued a statement last night saying engineers were working to reopen the newly completed bridge but did not provide any estimate on when highway would reopen.

The Trans-Canada running through Nipigon is the only major highway in the area -- Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey said Sunday that the only option for motorists crossing northern Ontario was to detour through the U.S.

Harvey said Nipigon has in the past developed contingency plans for such a situation that provide alternate ways for some traffic to cross the Nipigon River and those could be brought in quickly if the bridge can't be swiftly repaired.

The Ontario Provincial Police said part of the steel decking is sticking up about 60 centimetres, and images of the damage show it spans the entire width of the car portion of the bridge.

Harvey says pedestrians can still cross on the footpath part of the bridge.

The Municipality of Greenstone, which includes a number of small communities in the area, declared a state of emergency Sunday because of the bridge closure.


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