The Coulter bridge is open again, and it’s not an April Fool’s joke.
The bridge connecting Coulter and Waskada on Highway 251 quietly opened to vehicular traffic on Monday at 3 p.m., according to a provincial spokesman.
The bridge was destroyed by flooding in 2011, forcing some travellers to drive an extra 40 minutes to get over the Souris River.
Out of frustration, motorists began using an ice road to cross the river in 2012.
Construction of the new bridge began in January 2013.
Earlier this year, the provincial government told the Sun that the bridge was slated to open on March 23.
When contacted late yesterday afternoon, provincial spokesman Jean-Marc Prevost was unable to account for the weeklong delay, but noted that the new bridge is a significant upgrade from the previous version.
“It’s higher, it’s longer, it’s capable of handling a higher level flood event. It’s capable of handling heavier loads for the oil industry. It’s got different, deeper foundations, so it won’t get washed out like the original bridge,” Prevost said.
“It’s a bridge that was completed in 33 months. It’s quite exceptional for the calibre of bridge that it is.”
Members of the group that initially lobbied for the replacement of the Coulter bridge, the Bridge 251 Committee, had announced a grand opening for the structure on March 29.
The group was told by the province to postpone the celebration until the bridge has been handed over to Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.
Prevost did not know if a new date for a grand opening has been scheduled.
Visit the Opinion section of the website for a letter from the committee.