The bridge connects the south and north sides of the village of Massena, and it is a major route to the Alcoa and Arconic plants in Massena. I applaud the New York State Department of Transportation for again bringing this project in on schedule and on budget.
I pointed out we have some major infrastructures due to the number of bridges we have crossing waterways in the North Country.
I had a chance to speak at this afternoon's grand opening ceremony and then took a stroll across the bridge with Massena Mayor Tim Currier and several other community members. A short time later I used this bridge to head to my next meeting in the village.
Bernie Lashomb had the honor of driving the first vehicle across the bridge. His passengers included the state DOT's chief of staff and the Boys & Girls Club of Massena Youth of the Year.
The project includes a roundabout and new green space with access to the Grasse River. I even had a chance to visit with a couple of Massena residents who told me about the fish they catch near the bridge.
Here's what I had to say at the grand opening ceremony:
"You can imagine we have a lot of bridges in the River District. It's an enormous undertaking to try and keep up with all the maintenance and replacements that we need. We have been fortunate in the North Country to get the ear of the governor and DOT to make sure they are up here taking care of our infrastructure. Our infrastructure is what our community is based on.
"Our ability to grow jobs and retain jobs is based on our ability to get things in and out of here. It really is at the top of the list in terms of how our community can move forward and continue to transition in an economy that is ever changing and requiring us to be very nimble.
"For me, this is an emotional project as much as it is steel and concrete, a $13 million bridge that was completely replaced.
"This bridge really felt into a state of disrepair at a very difficult time in this community. The rebuilding and building it strong for many, many, many years to come dovetails perfectly with what the community has gone through and what the community is doing now as well.
"We would have liked this bridge never to have been taken out of service, but now it has come back and is bringing momentum to this community.
"It's the lifeblood of our community in terms of getting materials and commerce in and out of here. It is connecting the two sides of the village back to where it was before, making us whole again.
"It also allows to connect with our beautiful natural resource, which is why so many of us live here. It allows us to reconnect with the river. Being able to walk across this bridge and look at the beautiful river ... It really does round out the whole Massena experience. And who doesn't want to be on the river on a beautiful day like today.
"My thanks again to the governor for understanding the unique needs of the River District and the number of bridges we have here in the North Country. I hope you (DOT officials) keep coming back up.
"I also have a message from my friends around the corner. They hope the governor will come up and make some more announcements about moving the economy forward in the North Country."