No vote is needed to come up with the top local story of 2018. The opening of the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River at Washington was No. 1.

No event in recent history has caused as much excitement as the opening of the $63 million structure. The opening was attended by as many as 3,000 to 4,000 people who were on the bridge at some time during the Dec. 1 opening.

The new bridge sparked memories of the day when the old 1936 bridge was opened to traffic.

Coming up next will be the removal of the old bridge. Excitement is building already for that event. No date has been set, but it will be some time in the spring. The bridge contractor owns the old structure, which has plenty of steel to be recycled. Dropping it into the river and the removal of it from the water is going to lure onlookers.

The new bridge, which has traffic of about 13,000 vehicles a day, is not 100 percent complete. The contractor has until Sept. 2, 2019, to complete the project. Does that mean the Missouri Department of Transportation has until that date to name the bridge? Giving a name to the new bridge appears to be a dead issue. The old bridge did not have a name other than the Highway 47 bridge.

There is a nostalgia for the appearance of the old bridge. Many people liked the protruding steel from the old deck upward. The design of bridges of this size is different today. The new bridge has a streamlined look and was built to last 75 to 100 years.

We’ve heard some concern about the curve as vehicles leave the bridge on the south side, with people wondering why the two remaining houses on the west side of Highway 47 were not removed for a straight lane to Third Street. The houses are privately owned. To have a straight lane would be nice, and less of a hazard (if it is a hazard). All curves have a degree of hazard for motorists.

There is little doubt that eventually the lane will be straight to Third Street. It has been reported that the owners didn’t want to sell the houses and the state didn’t want to condemn the properties to obtain them. The price undoubtedly had something to do with it.

The vast majority are just happy and thankful for the new bridge. They are looking forward to watching the old bridge be dropped into the river. That doesn’t happen often.

At any rate, we have the new bridge and traffic is moving in a safe manner with the wide lanes. The pedestrian/bicycle lane on the west side of the bridge will be open soon and that’s going to be a popular attraction.

The opening of the new bridge was THE event around here in 2018!