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New bridge over river in Kentville draws some controversy

Published on September 11, 2017

Drivers line up at rush hour to cross the 80-year-old Silver Link in Kentville.

©Wendy Elliott

KENTVILLE - Construction was slated to begin for the long-awaited Cornwallis River Bridge replacement last fall.

The work hasn’t started and meanwhile a petition around its naming began last week. A Centreville woman’s petition has collected over 570 names.
Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow says that the project has proved more complicated technically than was first envisioned.
“The town has added another $100,000 to its budget for sewer work,” she said. “It’s a big job.”
The main hold up currently relates to live wires Nova Scotia Power and Bell Aliant are running under the old bridge.
“They go out to Hall’s Harbour,” the mayor said, “under the old infrastructure.”
NSP spokesperson Tiffany Chase says, “we are working with the Town of Kentville and a local property owner to secure an easement for the location of the new line.”
Snow said she has not heard any estimate when the construction will get underway. She added that while the old bridge has passed its life span, it is still safe for traffic weighing under 1.8 tons to use.
Reporting to council a year ago, Fred Whynot, director of engineering and public works, said that the former library and police station had been removed, plans for the direction drilling of a sanitary sewer siphon were underway, and most of the clearing of trees for the new bridge had been completed.
The new bridge will measure 45 feet by 140 feet and Kentville will contribute about $185,000 altogether toward the build, which is estimated to cost more than $5 million.
The provincial government is responsible for the bridge replacement project. Dexter Construction was awarded the contract for the $5.4 million project last August.
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spokesperson Brian Taylor had indicated that construction would begin shortly and take between six to eight months to complete.
Naming the bridge
Earlier this month there was a drive on social media to give the new bridge a Mi'kmaq name since the First Nations people called the river Jijuktu'kwejk or Chijekwtook, meaning Narrow River.
After learning about the tradition to name bridges after prominent citizens, a second petition was started Sept. 9 calling for the river to go back to its original Mi'kmaq name.
The bridge at Port Williams, for example, was named for MLA Gladys Porter, but as history columnist Ed Coleman has noted the name given a new span is usually is quickly forgotten and rarely if ever used.
Few people know now that the existing bridge in Kentville was dubbed the Silver Link when it was opened in 1931.
After the announcement that a new bridge would be built in Kentville a year ago, various names were suggested. Kentville longest serving mayor, Wendell Phinney, was a popular notion and the council of the day was willing.
Mayor Snow explained that the ‘Cornwallis River’ signage, which prompted the first petition, was taken from a PDF supplied by the province’s transportation and infrastructure department.
“That was an oversight on our part,” she said. “Most people just call it the bridge. We all use our own lens.”