Traders' joy as bridge re-opens
For Drogheda's hard-pressed traders it was a bridge too long. Two-and-a-half years too long.
Its closure during that time transformed the town centre into a dead end, a cul de sac, costing a fortune in lost business as harassed motorists shopped elsewhere.
Recently the hypertension rate among the recession bitter shopkeepers grew alarmingly, as they watched the two-year contract grow into two-and-a-half years. With no sign of it being finished.
It became the town joke. Would it re-open this week? Next week? Christmas? April 1?
It was like those never ending tales from the Arabian Nights which Scheherazade bewitched her royal husband within the ancient Persian folk legend.
Now at last the sad, sorry saga of St. Mary's Bridge has reached its closing chapter.
This week Drogheda traders were in jubilant mood as they predicted a big lift-off in trade on completion of the bridge and its re-opening to motorised traffic.
It was September 1980 that the £750,000 bridge reconstruction contract began. The firm chosen for the job was Irish Enco of Dublin, recent winners of the contract for the building of the city's first toll bridge across the Liffey.
The project was ordered by the Board of Works because it was felt the old St. Mary's Bridge was not strong enough to resist the increased river flow from the Boyne Drainage Scheme.
The job was meant to be completed in two years. But it was dogged by delays along the way and extensions to the contract had to be granted by the Board of Works.