ALBANY, GA (WALB) - After years of work, the new downtown Broad Avenue Memorial Bridge opened Albany Wednesday. Nearly seven years ago, the old Broad Avenue Bridge was suddenly closed when inspectors deemed it unsafe.
The rebuilding process wasn't easy, from concerns about losing the historic bridge, to worries about the ecological impact construction would have on the Flint River.
The new bridge was dedicated to our Veterans, who were the stars of today's emotional ceremony. The first people to cross the new, $12 million Broad Avenue Memorial Bridge were veterans.
And veterans young and old, representing every service branch of the United States Military, joined several thousand people at the dedication and opening.
Charlie Johnson, retired U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. says "I feel like the vets are getting the respect we deserve, I feel great about it."
And veterans like Charlie Johnson were also among the first to walk across the bridge, as did young soldiers, like Army Cadet Donald Williams. "I am from South Georgia and I was around when they closed the bridge, and I wanted to walk it now that it is open."
And, the bridge opened to great pageantry, with many dignitaries joining veterans and citizens to witness the historic reopening.
"This is an example of us working together and how things can happen when we work together," Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said. "We are delighted to dedicate to our veterans who serve all it makes it really special for us. It can't help but improve traffic to downtown, the flow and people will get out and ride and bike, it will have a tremendous impact."
And at 3:00, the first vehicles crossed the bridge, making access in and out of downtown Albany much easier.
Chris Cohilas, DoCo Commission Chair says "I also think it is important symbolic purpose to connect the community with itself."
A connection to the past and the present, honoring those who serve our country on Veteran's Day.
About an hour after the bridge dedication, about 150 Dougherty County employees took a late lunch break and walked across the bridge.
It's part of a get healthy initiative by the county to build in healthy activities in the day.
Dougherty County teamed up with Walk Georgia to promote the event and even provide T-shirts commemorating the walk across the new bridge.
"This was one of the opportunities we saw to get employees out as a unit to put our health first not something we do often," said Jeremy Bivens, Do Co HR Administrator.