Niles Main Street Bridge worth the wait
Published 10:58 am Monday, December 14, 2015
Downtown Niles is finally back to normal again.
Residents had been waiting nearly 14 months for the Niles Main Street Bridge to re-open after the 90-year-old bridge was torn down and replaced with a new one.
There was understandably a lot of excitement when the $10 million-plus bridge finally opened to traffic on Thursday.
By some estimates approximately 300 people took advantage of an opportunity to take a walking tour of the structure prior to the moment when MDOT allowed the first vehicles to cross.
They took in the view of the St. Joseph River from the bridge’s lookout points. Children leaned against the arched railing and peered down toward the water as balloons swayed with the wind on what was an unusually warm day for early December.
Many people stayed for hours at what truly seemed like a big event.
A Niles High School band played music on the east side of the bridge. City Administrator Ric Huff cut a ribbon to signify the bridge’s opening. There was even free cake served to the many people who came out.
When the first cars were let through, police vehicles escorted the initial wave of cars slowly across the bridge as residents cheered and took pictures.
One of the MDOT engineers said he was surprised to see just how many people came out to celebrate.
Several residents said the bridge was something that Niles could be proud of and city officials praised MDOT for allowing Niles to have a say in what the bridge would look like. Residents voted to install the arched railing — an homage to the bowstring bridge that spanned the river in the 1800s.
It truly is a beautiful addition to downtown Niles and well worth the wait.
Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.