By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - The inaugural ride on the new low-level bridge early Friday morning was a historical journey for its passengers and the City of Cornwall alike.
The Seaway International Bridge Corporation opened the bridge with a ceremonial crossing at 7 a.m.
The first people over were Micheline Dubé, president and CEO of the Federal Bridge Corporation, and Cornwall resident Raymonde Champagne, 81.
"We're here this morning to open the new low-level North Channel Bridge. It's so exciting," said Dubé.
Champagne was the first person to cross the high-level bridge when it opened in 1962. And now over half a century later she was the first to cross the low-level bridge.
"(We recreated) the moment that she lived over 50 years ago," said Dubé.
As Champagne sat in the Lexus SUV with her daughter Nicole in the back, she stared at the new structure in anticipation of making bridge history -twice.
"I can't wait," she said.
Dubé stated that the bridge will go beyond meeting the traffic needs of its drivers by giving Cornwall's waterfront a new and open look.
The development of the low-level bridge has been a key project for Andre Girard, Federal Bridge Corporation spokesman, since he started in 2000. He described today's opening as "crucial."
"The look when the old structure goes is going to change the whole scenery," said Girard. "Everyone is going to benefit from that including tourism and activities along the waterfront. It's important for the community and Canada for economic reasons with the United States."
The high-level bridge will be torn down by late 2016. Security measures have been put in place to prevent any traffic from gaining further access.