What a great time it was Nov. 1 when hundreds of people showed up for the Sunset Beach Bridge Walk. With the sun shining and the temperature in the mid-sixties, Sunset Cyclists and Cape Fear Cyclists led the gathering across the bridge. Young mothers pushed strollers, residents had their dogs on leashes, people talked on their cell phones and dozens of people came to the railing to take pictures.
What I especially like about the bridge is that it's wide! It has two bicycle lanes (which, I'm sure, will also attract walkers) and two vehicular traffic lanes. It rises high enough for people to see the marsh, Ocean Isle Beach and its high-rise building, boats on the Intracoastal Waterway and vistas that delight the imagination.
I got to the top of the bridge, which rises from 62-65 feet in the air and extends for a half mile, as the pontoon bridge was opening for water traffic on the Intracoastal. It was providential that we saw the sight in its waning days. Feelings are still divided about the new $32 million bridge vs. the 52-year-old pontoon bridge.
"We're tried of waiting in the traffic," said Nancy Sneska of Carolina Shores, N.C. At the same time, "We're anxious to see what they do about the parking."
"It'll be nice to get over here, but I would prefer the old bridge because it's historic. That's the charm and beauty of that bridge," added Pencie Crews of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Jackie Headman and Pat Sheridan of Sunset Beach said they were happy with having a new bridge. "I'm thrilled," Pat said.
"As much as we know you have to progress, it's a sad time, too," Jackie said.
Chris Wilson of Sunset Beach is promoting the preservation of the pontoon bridge. Those who want to learn more or are in favor of the preservation can go to www.theoldbridge.org for more information.
No day or time is set as yet for the official opening of the high-rise bridge, but I am sure some people will be cheering and others will be crying.