The long-awaited opening of the new bridge on Highway 47 over the Missouri River at Washington is upon us.

The many preparations by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the city of Washington for the opening are completed. With a favorable weather forecast for Saturday, it should be an enjoyable and appreciative day for the people of this area.

The $63 million project from all indications has progressed remarkably well. While there are multiple finishing touches still remaining, the bridge is ready for traffic, by foot, bicycles and vehicles. The bridge should be open to traffic next week, perhaps by Monday.

In the meantime, the day of celebration is here and The Missourian joins countless others in welcoming the many visitors who will be here for the ceremonies Saturday.

Among the special guests will be Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, the main speaker, who represents the 3rd Congressional District that includes Franklin and Warren counties. He is a frequent visitor to this area. Members of the Missouri Highway Commission and officials from MoDOT will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Local officials also will join in the festivities.

The Saturday program has been planned with citizens upmost in the minds of the officials. With shuttles from the Rennick Riverfront Park, and with the ribbon cutting available to be seen on screens at the riverfront through today’s technology, the program has been planned to make it as convenient as possible for people of all ages. Refreshments will be available at the riverfront after the bridge ceremonies, and the day will be topped off with a fireworks display there.

The new bridge is expected to have a life span of 75 to 100 years. That makes Saturday’s program a historic event. The old bridge is 81 years old. When it is removed in the spring, there will be mega interest in that event also.

It was with a smile that we read what the editor and owner of The Missourian wrote after the 1936 bridge was dedicated in May of that year. J.N. McClure in his “It Seems to Me” editorial column wrote this in the June 5, 1936, issue of The Missourian: “The bridge dedication — well, that’s old stuff now, it happened so long ago (May 28, 1936). It seemed like a year getting through it. I’m glad that we don’t dedicate bridges more than once in a lifetime. Anyway the bridge is opened, and it is taking in more money that anybody expected. Maybe it will be self-liquidating after all.”