Nearly nine months after fire destroyed a bridge near New Bothwell, crews have begun the task of replacing the structure.

On May 10th, a devastating fire burned the bridge spanning the Manning Canal along Provincial Road (PR) 311, between the New Bothwell and Landmark turnoffs.

The Manitoba government then spent the next several months reviewing various options for replacing the 42-year-old bridge. 

In late January, a provincial spokesperson announced that the construction contract was publicly tendered and had been awarded to Graham Construction and Engineering of Winnipeg.

The total project cost for the new bridge is estimated at approximately $16 million. Though the bridge lies in Hanover, it is located along a Provincial Road and therefore the cost is covered by the province.

A provincial spokesperson said construction was expected to begin in February with the work substantially complete and open to traffic by December of this year. Total project completion is anticipated in summer of 2025. 

Travis Doerksen is the local councillor for the Rural Municipality of Hanover. He says over the last couple of weeks crews have been moving equipment into that area to begin construction. As of Tuesday morning of this week, excavators could be seen preparing the area.

"It's very nice to see that construction has started," says Doerksen. 

He adds there has been a change in provincial government since the fire and it is great to know that the change did not kill the project. 

Construction has started on the new bridge along Provincial Road 311 (Submitted)Photo credit: Travis Doerksen

As a local resident, Doerksen says the lack of a bridge there has had a major impact on traffic. With detours in place, it means more vehicles are driving through New Bothwell and more vehicles are using municipal gravel roads. He notes a deal was struck between the province and municipality whereby the province would help with some of the extra maintenance as a result of the added traffic.

"Our community has definitely seen an increase in traffic which can be positive for businesses," he points out.

At the same time, Doerksen says it can also be negative when you consider the increase in speeding, they have noticed. 

"We're feeling a little bit of the effects of some of the additional traffic and that's to be expected," he says. "It's not for a long, long period of time."

Doerksen adds the province has definitely delivered on its commitment to help with maintenance. 

"I know our Public Works department has worked very, very well with the province and I think that when it comes to gravel and dust control and snow clearing and stuff like that, I think it's been handled pretty good so far," says Doerksen. "I think it's a little bit of an inconvenience for some of the people that live on the detour roads but hopefully it's short-lived and we can get back to it being a regular highway here shortly."