‘What a wonderful day this is!’
A festive crowd braved the cold weather for the Dec. 19 ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the $33.5 million Coplay-Northampton Bridge.
The event began with the playing of the national anthem. Northampton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4714 honor guard participated.
In remarks, Rick Molchany, Lehigh County director of general services, credited the hard work of Trumbull Construction, Pittsburgh, which finished the bridge construction six months ahead of schedule.
“On budget and ahead of time,” Molchany said.
Local, county and state officials, along with excited residents from both sides of the Lehigh River, participated in the countdown of the bridge opening. Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong officially cut the ribbon.
The first vehicle to cross the bridge carried Armstrong, Coplay Mayor Dean Molitoris and Northampton Mayor Thomas Reenock and was driven by Eric Eberhardt, of Eberhardt Motors, Egypt.
According to Molchany, a bronze plaque will be placed on the bridge officially naming it the Brigadier General Anna Mae McCabe Hays Bridge. A Lehigh County native, Hays had a distinguished military career with numerous outstanding achievements, many of them a first for a woman.
“The bridge brings back an economic tool for Coplay and Northampton,” Armstrong said, noting many of the businesses affected by the bridge’s closure — Mario’s Pizza, Northampton, and Samuel Owens Restaurant & Bar, Rob’s Auto Sales & Repair, Giant Food and others in Coplay.
“This is good for everyone,” Reenock said. “Families from both boroughs have bonds and relatives going back decades. We are very close.
“The bridge unites us,” Reenock said, a sentiment echoed by Molitoris.
“We welcome back people from Coplay,” said a representative from Mario’s Pizza, Northampton.
“Wonderful,” said Rob Wolfe of Rob’s Auto Sales & Repair, mentioning that one simple word says it all.
Bill Loy, of Samuel Owens Restaurant & Bar, noted the bridge being closed was hard on the deliveries to Northampton. What previously only took a few minutes for delivery had tripled in time.
“Oh, what a relief it is,” said a person in the crowd, a parody to an Alka Seltzer commercial from years back.
Another attendee sang out, “What a wonderful day this is!”