There hasn’t been this much excitement in Washington, Franklin, Warren and St. Charles counties since 1936 when the first bridge over the Missouri River opened to traffic — that is, bridgewise!

The new Highway 47 bridge at Washington opened to traffic Monday. It wasn’t open at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday because the lane striping still had to be done.

We call it the People’s Bridge because it is for all of us to use. The state owns it but with the pride in it locally, it really is the People’s Bridge.

The pride in the new bridge was evident in the crowd Saturday at the opening program. The crowd made an impression on the state officials who were here for the program and talked about the number of people present.

Working together, cooperation to the fullest by all, the project stands as a milestone to the future of this area as the speakers at the ribbon-cutting program alluded to, and the unity of accomplishment was as solid as the concrete deck on the new structure. Gratitude to the providers — from the federal government down to state and local officials, and to the the workers whose skills built it — overflowed, enough to give rise to the river level.

There was an abundance of satisfaction filling the air and a vision of what it will mean to the future of this area. The day will come when there is an improved Highway 47 from Warrenton to St. Clair, an important link from Interstate 70 to Interstate 44.

The Missourian adds its congratulations to the many people who were involved in the project. Their wisdom, hard work, cooperation and enthusiasm for the project was something to behold.

The project was driven by the need for safety. The old 82-year-old bridge had structural problems and was built for 1930s traffic. Its narrow width was a challenge for motorists. With about 13,000 vehicles a day using the bridge, it is past the time for a replacement.

The city, along with MoDOT, did a good job of putting the program together. The police and sheriff’s deputies from both counties, fire department personnel, the ambulance districts and other volunteers helped to stage the event Saturday.

Special thanks must go to the Missouri Department of Transportation, its director, the agency’s engineers, and especially to area engineer Judy Wagner, who nursed the project to completion. The contractor, Alberici of St. Louis, and the subcontractors and their workers, displayed their professionalism and knowledge of bridge building in erecting a bridge that should last for the next 75 to 100 years. It’s good-looking also!

The people of this area are feasting on the pride the new bridge has delivered.