Frankly, I was a little miffed. Mary Stierwalt, while on flag patrol, beat me to the punch and drove over the new Blue Grass Road bridge first some weeks ago (and took photos to prove it).
But I've licked my wounds and pouted long enough, so took a left onto Grace Avenue Saturday,drove east, then over the bridge --- twice, once headed out of town, then headed back in. It was a gratifying experience. I have no idea how many years it's been since we were able to do that.
And it's a wonderful bridge --- complete with pedestrian walkway along one side. Only one complaint --- there should have been a ribbon-cutting or something, if for no other reason than to celebrate the fact that so many of us have survived the death-defying act of driving onto Highway 34 just east of the overpass during the years the bridge was out with invisible vehicles zooming toward us from the west.
This is the second level up of a transportation sandwich. The Blue Grass Road came first, taking Mormon pioneers through what became Chariton first during the summer of 1846. Chariton came along in 1849, then in 1867, the new Burlington & Missouri River Railroad (now Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) tracks were built parallel to the Blue Grass.
In 1912-13, the new Union Pacific (then Rock Island) tracks tunneled under both the earlier railroad and the Blue Grass. Finally, the Highway 34 bypass bridge was built to soar above them all.
Eventually, however, the timber bridge built by the Rock Island in 1912-13 became so dangerous it was condemned and closed. Bridges this size are expensive and the railroad was uncooperative, so it took years to round up financing. But now we're back in business.