Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 26, 2014
Hundreds gather to wish the bridge a happy birthday - VIDEO & SLIDESHOW
Bridge End Park opened to the public
by Jessica Brophy
A structure that has meant so much to so many celebrated its 75th birthday on Saturday, June 21, under bright skies.
Hundreds walked the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge while it was closed to traffic as part of the celebration. Many snapped photos, stood in the centerline to feel the bridge sway, and peered up the cables and down through the grates that line the sides of the bridge to the waters of the Eggemoggin Reach below.
For many, it was the first time they’d ever had the opportunity to walk over a structure they’d ridden over many times. For others, such as Roy Grindle of Sedgwick, it was a chance to return.
In 1986, Grindle was part of the crew that worked on the re-decking of the bridge. “It was a very physical experience,” said Grindle. “I haven’t walked it since, but I used to ride my bike over it all the time when I was a kid.”
Many people also gathered at the newly-opened Bridge End Park for music and a program celebrating the bridge’s birthday. Several vendors offered food and beverages, and organizations set up tents, including the local historical societies. Linda Nelson and Opera House Arts coordinated the event.
David Bernhardt, commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, talked about the MDOT’s commitment to maintaining the bridge.
“Since 2008, we have spent $35 million repairing the bridge so it will be here 25 years from now for the 100th anniversary,” said Bernhardt. “To replace something of this size would cost three or four times that.”
Bernhardt also commented on the MDOT’s commitment to Route 15, which earned him an enthusiastic round of applause from the crowd.
State Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle) spoke positively about Bridge End Park. “This doesn’t happen without someone driving the bus,” said Kumiega in reference to Loring Kydd, the chairman of the Bridge End Citizen’s Initiative, which organized the effort to purchase the property and create the park with donations and grant monies.
Frank McGuire, whose grandfather by the same name was a driving force for the bridge in the 1930s, spoke about the effort for the bridge. “It’s a reminder of what can be done when people see a problem and work together to solve it,” he said.
Clare Grindal of Sedgwick, who grew up in Stonington, talked about how Stonington residents used to be self-sufficient, except for a “yearly trip to Bangor.”
“Though we leave the island, we never leave behind the memories of the bridge,” said Grindal. “It welcomes us home.”
Hancock County Commissioner Percy “Joe” Brown echoed her sentiment at the close of the ceremony. “For those of us who are permanent residents, when we go away and return, when we turn that corner in Sedgwick and see that structure looming, that’s home,” he said. “We know we’re almost home.”
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