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New International Bridge Opens After Much Anticipation

| August 1, 2014

BridgeStory from WAGM-TV on Vimeo.

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A coming together of two countries..to celebrate the new bridge that connects them.

“It represents a connection between Maine and New Brunswick, of the US and Canada, of economics and community and heritage. Much like our two regions, this is a bridge to be proud of,” said Maine DOT commissioner David Bernhardt.

Officials from both sides of the border celebrated the opening of the 13.9 million dollar bridge connecting Fort Kent and Clair New Brunswick on Thursday morning.

“It’s crucial for an economic perspective but its equally as important in allowing people to come to visit New Brunswick or to go to Maine and other parts of the US..the bridge is a link between our communities, between families, between friends as well,” said N.B. Premier David Alward.

A ribbon cutting ceremony marked the partnership between Maine and New Brunswick’s deparments of transportation in building and funding the bridge. It’s a project that has been TWELVE years in the making.

Fort Kent town manager Don Guimond said, “oftentimes you shuffle paper, and you shuffle paper, and you feel like you accomplish nothing. This is a totally different feeling because we’re standing on it..it’s done, it’s visible, it’s in many ways massive, and more than that, we’re one people in this region.”

“People from Fort Kent and Clair – some of them are the same families – so I guess at the end of the day, it’s reuniting the same family, the same people,” said Clair Mayor Pierre Michaud.

The bridge work was completed two months ahead of schedule so it would be ready for the World Acadian Congress, just a week away.

“We know there’s going to be a lot of traffic come time for the World Acadian Congress so, we really pushed the bridge and the approach works and all the work that needed to be done, we wanted to have at least a week to play with, and we met the date, July 31st,” said Bernhardt.

Daily traffic on the bridge averages more than 1 thousand cars and 45 trucks — Lynn Levesque was the first to come across the bridge from Canada into the US after it opened. Her reason – a trip to Irving.

“We waited so long for that bridge and we’re so happy to have it,” she said.

Officials on both sides of the border said they were extremely proud of both departments of transportation for a job well done…the beginning stages of taking down the old bridge will start next Monday and is expected to be completed by June of 2015.

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