Open for Business
By Aubry Bracco
Hampton Union, December 25, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Aubry Bracco photo]
HAMPTON FALLS / HAMPTON -- A ribbon-cutting has been scheduled for the completed Old Stage Road Bridge, which is open for safe and functional passage for the first time since 1997.
The ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 26, as a soft opening, so that community members will have the opportunity to "enjoy the bridge this winter," said Old Stage Road Bridge Committee Chairwoman Judy Wilson. Wilson said the committee intends to hold a "community wide celebration" in the spring.
"We want to acknowledge all donors, money, materials and labor," Wilson said. "It will be more fun when the weather is better.
"This bridge has really been a community-wide effort," she said. "We want to celebrate properly in the spring."
Although Saturday's celebration is only a preliminary one, Wilson invites community members to the event to share the moment with volunteers and donors who have transformed their vision for the bridge into a reality.
"It's just very meaningful for people who have worked on and with the committee," Wilson said. "Everybody has worked so hard."
In 1997, Hampton Falls and Hampton were forced to close and blockade the bridge, which connects the two towns, after the state Department of Transportation (DOT) deemed it unsafe. Efforts to rehabilitate the bridge into a covered walkway for pedestrian use have been four years in the making, Wilson said.
According to the chairperson, the bridge's reopening is made all the more special when the historical significance of the 60-foot-long structure is taken into account.
"Historians on the committee ...; have reminded us that the bridge was once the only way between Boston and Portland," Wilson said. "That's a stunning fact.
"The bridge deserved better," she continued. "We're thrilled that it has actually happened."