Local, state and federal officials will be on hand this Saturday for the grand opening of the new Highway 47 bridge.
Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy said organizers expect about 500 people to take part in the opening ceremony and ribbon cutting at 3 p.m. on the bridge and special activities at the riverfront.
The bridge will be open for the public to walk on from 1-5 p.m.
According to Mayor Lucy, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer will be the first to take the microphone at the ceremony, followed by State Sen. Dave Schatz, State Rep. Bart Korman, Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker, Warren County Commissioner Hubie Kluesner, Mayor Lucy, Highway 47 Bridge Committee Chairman Bob Zick and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Director Patrick McKenna.
The master of ceremonies will be MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner.
Music will be provided by the Washington Brass Band and the Washington Navy JROTC will present the colors. The national anthem will be sung by Stephanie and Dan McKenzie.
“We’re ready to go,” Mayor Lucy told The Missourian. “This week we’ll wrap up the final details.”
The mayor noted that many people who played a role in the new bridge will be recognized, including federal, state and local leaders, as well as a group of local children who raised funds through a penny drive.
An invocation will be given by Pastor Gary Schulte with St. Peter’s United Church of Christ.
Mayor Lucy said area ministers are invited to participate in a blessing of the bridge that will be led by Father Joe Wormek, St. Francis Borgia Parish pastor.
Organizers stressed that there will be no public parking allowed on the bridge. There will be four shuttles running “continuously” to and from the riverfront from 1 to 5 p.m. One of the shuttles will be handicap accessible.
“That is the safest way to get to the ceremony,” said Wagner. “There are no pets (allowed), and nothing on wheels — please just come on your feet.”
Wagner added wheelchairs and strollers are permitted on the bridge, and there will be golf carts to help those in need to travel from the shuttle drop-off to the ceremony seating.
According to Mayor Lucy, a Ford Model S will be on display Saturday. The vehicle, owned by Chris Fischer, was the third car to cross the old bridge during a procession at its grand opening May 28, 1936.
Time Line of Events
The day will begin with a fun run on the bridge hosted by the Four Rivers Family YMCA at 7 a.m.
Runners will start at the Washington Library, and walkers will begin at the Mercy Hospital Washington parking lot.
The bridge will close immediately after the run so Washington Parks Department crews can get the bridge ready for the 3 p.m. ceremony. It will reopen to the public at 1 p.m.
The parks department will set up a stage, chairs and bleachers for the public and the Brass Band on the bridge.
From noon to 1 p.m. organizations participating in the ceremony will begin setting up.
The Brass Band is scheduled to play from 2-3 p.m. and the ceremony will begin at 3 p.m.
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.
The event will be live streamed to big screens at the riverfront. There will be heaters under the pavilion to help keep people warm. The event also can be viewed online at www.facebook.com/MoDOT-St-Louis-286948911751.
Beginning at 6:45 p.m. there will be a fireworks display at the Washington Riverfront that will conclude an after party.
Washington police will begin security at 10 a.m.
“We are expecting around 500 people at the ceremony and about that many for the riverfront event after the ribbon cutting,” said Police Chief Ed Menefee. “Weather permitting — good weather means more people.”
Chief Menefee added there will be an officer at the bridge at 7 a.m. to help the YMCA runners make it on and off and keep all other pedestrians off the bridge.
Chief Menefee noted 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.
Both the bridge and the riverfront will be festival districts, which means no pets, unless they are service animals, and no coolers.
“It is all hands on deck from several agencies to put this event on, make it a special event,” Chief Menefee said. “We hope everyone has a good time and stays safe — Washington police’s role is safety, security and community outreach.”
There will be a Washington officer and a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy stationed on the south end of the bridge for security, crowd control and traffic control. There also will be a Warren County sheriff’s deputy on the north side of the bridge doing the same, Chief Menefee said.
Washington Fire and Washington Ambulance will be stationed at the south end of the bridge. Marthasville Fire and Marthasville Ambulance will be stationed on the bridge on the north side. Additionally, there will be several officers and deputies stationed at the ceremony site and at other locations impacted by the day’s events.
MoDOT will have flaggers on Highway 47, and the city of Washington will provide flaggers/traffic control for Hancock at Third Street, which is where the shuttles will travel toward First Street to Highway 47 to drop off attendees.
Washington firemen will stage at the riverfront for fireworks and burn pits. Also at the riverfront will be Washington Ambulance, parks staff, Marthasville city employees, and a host of other volunteers from various agencies, according to Chief Menefee.
“The bridge ceremony is officially over at 5 p.m.,” he added. “Washington police officers will be clearing all pedestrians off the bridge.
“Parking will be very limited in the area all around the bridge,” Chief Menefee noted.
He said attendees should go to the riverfront and take a shuttle to the bridge site, and then return to the riverfront the same way.
“It will be much easier and there will be several trams running,” he said. “It is especially recommended for handicapped persons — there is no designated handicapped parking in the area of the bridge event.”