OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- The new Oak Island Bridge is officially open and now has a new name. Today's ribbon cutting was a long time coming after lengthy delays, including the investigation into the death of worker.
Residents of Oak Island say there's been a need for a second bridge to get on and off the island for years, but many of those who worked to get the Swain's Cut Bridge open to traffic are no longer around to enjoy it.
"This is the most significant event in history of the towns of Yaupon Beach, Long Beach and the Town of Oak Island," Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace said.
Folks gathered at the town hall in Oak Island to celebrate the official dedication of the new bridge named in honor of the Grover Swain Family. Claudia Swain Reighley said her dad worked to get the bridge built. She said he would be excited it is now open.
"Poor Dad. He's been gone over 14 years now. He never got to see it, but he would have been so proud and so happy," Reighley said.
The Department of Transportation says the new bridge is not only convenient for drivers. It's safe too.
"We do have a very safe bridge and a bridge that will last for many, many years," DOT Division Engineer Allen Pope said.
Extra precautions were taken to ensure safety after a girder fell during construction in Dcember 2008 killing worker Jose Montalvo. His name was not mentioned at the ribbon cutting ceremony, except when we asked Wallace about the delays.
"I would like to mention the friends and family of Jose Montalvo, he was the boy that was killed in the accident, and just make sure that they know that they're in our hearts and in our prayers," she said.
Wallace said she is excited the bridge is finally open to traffic, because there are many people who spent their lives making it possible.
The $36 million Swain's Cut Bridge opened to traffic back in November. The 980-foot span connects Oak Island to the mainland at NC 211 and Midway Road.