When the Niska Road bridge in west Guelph was built in 1974, it was intended to be temporary.

More than four decades later, city officials say, that temporary period has to come to an end.

“The abutments that are basically holding the bridge up are starting to deteriorate to a point that, for safety reasons, we must shut the bridge down to protect the citizens,” Mayor Cam Guthrie said Tuesday.

The bridge will close to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on Feb. 28.

While many drivers use it as a way to get between Highway 124 and the Hanlon Parkway, it has become a common shortcut for people making other treks as well. On a typical day, it sees nearly 5,000 vehicles cross over it.

The bridge’s small width – it only has one lane – has given rise to one of Guelph’s more memorable traffic quirks. When cars are approaching it from both sides, drivers on one side will stop and wait for drivers on the other side to cross.

City councillors voted last year to build a new two-lane bridge in the area, which some residents fear will bring more traffic to the surrounding neighbourhood.

The plan – which will see the bridge constructed for $2.4 million, and slightly more spend on roadwork along Niska – still needs a sign-off from the province, following a challenge from some Guelph residents.

“We’re disappointed that it’s taking this long,” he said.

As the new bridge has not yet received full approvals, there is currently no timetable for its construction.

With reporting by Marc Venema