CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A ribbon cutting Friday brought a community together with its leaders, including Marion County Mayor David Jackson. He understands how much the new Highway 41 bridge means to the people here.
"I know they've struggled for the past couple years having to hit the interstate and go across," says Jackson. "It's also going to help the emergency services to respond quicker to this area."
The bridge stretches across Nickajack Lake, part of the Tennessee River. Wider lanes and shoulders make it safer than the old bridge.
But for Marion County native Madge Elizabeth Boggild, the old road is more than just a bridge--it's a memory. When it opened around 1930, her family was the first to cross it, in her father's Model-T truck. She was only 6 years old.
"There was just a quilt around the sides, and the people were sitting with their feet hanging off, and the children were in the center," recalls Boggild.
She also remembers her aunt's reaction.
"She got hysterical," says Boggild. "She was laughing and she was crying and I was thinking 'What's the big deal? This is exciting.' "
Boggild made history again in early 2012, becoming the last person to cross the old bridge before it closed. While she's proud of the new bridge, Boggild says it'll take a while to get used to it. The old one, right along-side it, has a special place in her heart and will likely be torn down.
"It's going to be different. I'm going to miss the big 'Ks' on there for my maiden name which was Knight," says Boggild, describing the truss design.
While her fond memories of the old structure remain intact, she'll miss that character its design.
Boggild was excited to make history for a third time when, on Friday, she became first person to cross the new bridge. But she's fighting to save the old one for the sake of history.
"We're not going to give up until the fat lady sings," states Boggild.
The old bridge, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), is unsafe and is expected to be demolished. But that might not happen for several months, TDOT officials say. The plan was to convert it into a walking bridge, but the agency says it doesn't have the money to do this. It could cost several million dollars.
Sunday, January 21 2018 12:50 AM EST2018-01-21 05:50:24 GMT
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