Hartland — The newly announced route of the Energy East pipeline might be a bridge too far for some New Brunswickers.
In a stunning announcement, TransCanada revealed yesterday that the new pipeline will pass through every single covered bridge in New Brunswick, sparking a combination of outrage and reluctant support from the province’s residents.
“Look, these covered bridges cost a lot of money in repairs and upkeep,” maintained Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI) minister Bill Fraser. “Long term, this spending is not sustainable. We’ve been looking for a corporate partner for a long time to help preserve these New Brunswick treasures for the future. TransCanada has made us an offer that we literally can’t refuse. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
New Brunswick has 60 covered bridges — 56 of which are maintained by DTI — including the world’s longest covered bridge in Hartland. Covered bridges were commonplace in the 19th and 20th centuries, when the trusses were wooden and the bridges were covered to prevent rapid deterioration from weather. In the agreement announced by DTI and TransCanada, the pipeline company will take over maintenance of all of the province’s covered bridges in exchange for allowing the Energy East pipeline to pass through.
In addition, TransCanada will receive naming rights to every bridge, as well as the rights to display sponsorship advertising. For example, the Hartland covered bridge henceforth will be known as the “TransCanada Pipeline Hartland Bridge” and bear the company’s logo.
Reaction from local residents is mixed. While some remark the commercialization of the bridges is a sad sign of the times, some are happy that to see a corporate partner take responsibility for the maintenance of these provincial treasures.
One senior who lives nearby was clearly flummoxed by mixed emotions. “I’m not sure why or how, but I feel like Donald Trump is somehow responsible for this… like this could only happen in a world where he is elected president. I thought I’d seen it all by now — but first Trump, and now this. I’m having a hard time imagining what’s coming at us next!”