A day of activities is planned to mark the ceremonial opening of the new Highway 47 bridge Saturday, Dec. 1.
The day will kick off with a fun run on the bridge hosted by the Four Rivers Family YMCA at 7 a.m.
The bridge grand opening ceremony — including a ribbon cutting and speakers — will begin at 3 p.m.
In the evening there will be a fireworks display at the Washington Riverfront that will conclude an after party.
“That (the fireworks) seems like a great way to end it,” said Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy, who is helping to organize the festivities.
“It is hard to believe the day is almost here,” she added. “We began planning over the summer and now it is less than two weeks away — it is very exciting.”
Lucy said organizers are planning for about 500 people to take part in the grand opening ceremony and other activities.
“We are very excited about the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” said Judy Wagner, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) area engineer. “We look forward to seeing the community come out and enjoy this joyous occasion.”
Work on the $63 million bridge project began in August 2016.
The new bridge is expected to open to traffic by the second week of December, after the ceremony. Demolition of the current bridge and final touches on the new bridge will continue into next year.
“We will have so many things to celebrate with this new bridge,” said Lucy, adding a demolition event and possibly an illumination ceremony are in the works.
Once the run concludes Dec. 1, the bridge will be off limits to the public until 1 p.m. The Washington Parks Department will set up a stage, chairs and bleachers for the public and the Brass Band on the bridge.
Police will begin security at 10 a.m.
From noon to 1 p.m. organizations participating in the ceremony will begin setting up.
The bridge will then be open to the public from 1-5 p.m.
Public parking for the event will be available at the riverfront. Shuttles will run from the riverfront park to the bridge beginning at 1 p.m.
Officials stress that there will be limited street parking around the bridge and there will be some street closures around the area for safety.
From 11 a.m. until after 5 p.m., Hancock and Third streets will be closed to traffic for shuttles. The Third Street access to the Mercy Hospital parking lot also will be closed.
The old bridge will remain open to traffic.
The Brass Band is scheduled to play from 2-3 p.m. and the ceremony will begin at 3 p.m.
For details on the run people may call the YMCA at 636-239-5704.
No animals, bicycles or other wheeled devices (with the exception of wheelchairs and strollers) will be allowed on the bridge during the public event.
According to Lucy, the bridge committee still is finalizing who will speak during the event. She expects officials from Warren and Franklin counties to take the podium.
“It is a much bigger undertaking than I first expected,” she said. “That is why there are so many people involved in the planning.”
The mayor noted that there will be memorabilia available to the public, including button pins.
“This will give them something special to help remember the day,” she said.
Wagner will emcee the event, which will include a ribbon cutting at 3 p.m., invocation and blessing of the bridge. There also will be historical items on display.
Local, state and federal officials will be on hand to cut the ribbon.
The event will be live streamed to big screens at the riverfront.
Lucy added the activities could be impacted due to weather, but there is a slim chance that the ceremony will be canceled.
“So much of this is weather dependent, but it will have to be really severe to cancel it,” she said. “I don’t think the temperatures will keep us off the bridge.”
Beginning at 2 p.m., there will be refreshments available for purchase at the riverfront hosted by the city of Washington.
Plans call for beer, wine, soda, water, hot chocolate, coffee, brats, hot dogs and chips.
There will be coloring pages and crayons available for children, according to the tentative plans.
Warren County officials and the Marthasville Chamber of Commerce also plan to assist with the after party, organizers said.
The after party will end about 7 p.m. following the fireworks display.
For more information about the after party, people may call the city of Washington at 636-390-1000.