You could cut the anticipation with a shovel.
The Grand Avenue Bridge would open two days early…eleven weeks after it was officially late.
Everyone gathered for a special ceremony. City leaders and the news media and…no one else.
Thank goodness someone thought to bring a lectern for the mayor.
“This bridge has been declared open,” said Des Moines mayor, Frank Cownie, “and actually, we’re seeing traffic go across it.”
So he was right! If there wasn’t excitement at the ceremony, there was more than enough on the bridge.
Drivers were happy and they were smiling, and for the first time in three months they were using a finger other than the middle one.
But they weren’t the only ones.
“I was like ‘What?’” said Juevencio Ramirez, owner of nearby Viva La Bamba restaurant.
“Unbelievable!” added Bill Boggs, owner of Sully’s Tavern on the west side of the bridge.
Business owners had given up counting the days so the news came as a shock.
“I would have been over there with a bottle of wine for them!” Boggs added.
“I just ran back to the restaurant and I told everybody ‘Hey guys, get ready!’” said Ramirez.
Their longest year was finally over.
“It was aggravating to watch one or two people working on the bridge full-time,” said Boggs.
For months, city leaders had been accosted by complaints, so you know they’re excited.
“Uh…I think relieved is probably a better word,” smiled city engineer, Jeb Brewer.
The work isn’t over. One lane is still closed and that makes turning east from 63rd Street difficult at best. But don’t worry, the contractor says it should be done by spring.