Placentia opens new lift bridge
Brendan McHugh remembers bolting out of his school on Jerseyside and heading for the hill overlooking the gut between his home and Placentia proper.
There he’d watch the ferry shuttle people out towards the mouth of the bay. It was 1956 and the original Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge was still halfa-dozen years away from being completed.
Fast forward 55 years and McHugh is standing on the other side of the gut waiting for the official opening of the new Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge
“It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be nice,” he told The Compass moments before the ceremony started. “It’ll be much better than the old one for sure.”
On Sept. 23, Placentia officially raised the curtain on the new bridge, while shutting down the old one at the same time.
A high- profile opening ceremony drew hundreds of community members to the recently refurbished Fort Fred- erick site on the Placentia side and featured plenty of government and municipal officials, including Premier Dwight Ball and Avalon MP Ken McDonald.
“This will no doubt be a ‘remember when’ day down the road,” said Mayor Wayne Power Jr.
The new bridge, a sky piercing white monolith of modern engineering, is a long time coming for the region. The project was first tendered several years ago and got to this point after passing through the hands of five Premiers, going through two tendering processes, imposed weight restrictions, a mechanical breakdown and three construction seasons.
The current construction job ran nearly 20 per cent over its original figure of $40.6 million, to top out at nearly $48 million.
The mayor made special mention of his predecessor Bill Hogan and former area MHA Felix Collins and the work they put into ensuring the project got started.
“This new structure will serve as an important piece to the traffic network in our community,” said Power. “The lift bridge is an important and vital link for economic and social aspects of our community.”
There were plenty of first in Placentia Friday.
After an official ribbon cutting and the first official raising of the new bridge – it didn’t get stuck — a flotilla of boats made their first crossing, which was followed by a motorcade over the old bridge and across the new one.
McHugh and his 1956 Ford were set to participate in the official motorcade that would cross the new bridge for the first time. Alongside him for the ride was 104-year-old Mary Drake, who is the town’s oldest resident.
“It’s really said. beautiful,” she
There were plenty of dignitaries in Placentia for the official opening of the new lift bridge. Here, from left, Avalon MP Ken McDonald, Minister of Transportation and Works Al Hawkins, Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr., PlacentiaSt. Mary’s MHA Sherry Gambin-Walsh and Premier Dwight Ball cut the ribbon.
Shortly after the motorcade made its way across the Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge, there were plenty of walkers giving the new piece of infrastructure a try.
A flotilla of boats made the first pass under the raised lift bridge in Placentia, signifying a new era in marine travel in the community.
A trio of young children walk the stone wall in the shadow the new Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge in Placentia on Sept. 23.
This is one of the first cars to cross the new Sir Ambrose Shea Lift Bridge in Placentia.