Building roads and bridges with the environment top of mind

It takes skilled work and planning to replace a bridge in a sensitive wetland area.

Blooming Point is a beloved Prince Edward Island beach, accessible by a single road. When it came time to replace a bridge on that road, the job had to be done quickly and had to respect the environment.

Island bridge contractor Maritime Dredging solved that problem with a “floating” bridge system. The aging structure was replaced in a few days with almost no impact on surrounding wetlands. 

That work earned Maritime Dredging the 2018 Environmental Award from the provincial government’s Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy (TIE). The award recognizes a contractor and a department staff member who demonstrate a consistent and comprehensive approach to environmental management.

“I guess this reflects the fact that we really tried to do this project in a way that respected the surrounding area. To do this work right you have to be conscious about the water and the wildlife where you are operating,” Maritime Dredging owner Bill Wellner said. “It feels pretty good to be recognized like this, because I know there are a lot of people in this industry who are doing good work.” 

Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Minister Paula Bigger said, “Maritime Dredging demonstrated great conscientiousness when installing the floating timber bridge at a very challenging site in Blooming Point. They had a well thought-out approach and diligent environmental controls which made this project a success with no negative impact on the environment.”

TIE Capital Projects Division engineer Matt Fortier received the department staff environmental award for 2018. He said environmental responsibility is something that’s an important factor in all highway construction and involves cooperation across government.

“We do a lot of coordinating with our department’s Environmental Management Section, as well as the Department of Communities, Land and Environment, on all projects especially the ones located in more sensitive areas,” Fortier said. “There are a lot of measures that we take, from installing sediment traps and silt fences, right to making sure hydroseeding is done in time to get grass growing on a project as soon as possible.”

In addition, TIE’s Land and Environment Division works with contractors to ensure environmental standards are upheld when roads, bridges, and other construction is happening across our province. 

Fortier said environmental protections take some time and planning but they are a crucial step in any successful highway project. 

“It’s definitely at the forefront,” he said. “The end goal is always completing the project, but there are measures we can take to assure we can continue with as little environmental impact as possible.”

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