Five years ago this week, I was fortunate to help organize an event celebrating the signing of the contract that officially began the construction phase of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The ceremony took place July 16, 2002 at Tacoma Community College. A few television cameras huddled in a non-descript room to capture the comments and signatures of the top managers at the WSDOT and the contractor.
This weekend, the culmination of more than 3.5 million man hours will unveil itself in a tremendous display. We think possibly 40,000 people will walk the bridge. A far cry from a few managers in a conference room!
The opening celebration is earning coverage from around the country. Television trucks and technicians will pull up to specially designated parking areas. Reporters with notepads in hand will crawl all over the bridge. Photographers will be snapping pictures. A million stories will walk across the bridge on Sunday.
But for me, a guy who writes press releases for a living and some times blogs, the biggest event comes Monday when the bridge opens to traffic. This bridge - the longest suspension bridge built in the United States since the 1960s - was built for cars and trucks. I can't wait to see traffic free flowing across the bridge.
The citizens of Gig Harbor deserve our thanks for their patience during this construction. I suppose it is little solace that the community had a front-row seat for the five-year-long construction show? It probably remains little comfort that today the community has another amazing monument to modern engineering - a living example of man's desire to cross to the other side? After all, each trip from Gig Harbor to Tacoma will cost $3 (unless you have a Good To Go! account).
Five years ago, signing the paperwork seemed like such a long walk before the bridge opened to traffic. On Sunday morning, my wife, son and I will join so many of you on the final steps before we reach our goal.
Enjoy the walk. I'll see you there!