MONTGOMERY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The 3rd Street bridge in Montgomery has reopened after months of construction– as local officials celebrate hitting the final stages of a $4 million project. 

The bridge needed to be replaced as a result of its deteriorating condition, according to Montgomery Town Board President Mike Healy– and initial discussions started years ago. 

“It’s great to have it open, this has been a few years in the making,” Healy said Wednesday. The old one, it had become a safety issue, it was built in 1948 and the last time it was inspected, sometime in the last 10 years, they said it only had 10 years worth of life left.”

As construction was ongoing, drivers had to take a detour at the intersection of 1st and Railroad Streets– a headache for the before and after school commutes.

“While this was out of service, the intersection two blocks to our east here was a nightmare,” he said. “You’d have people backed up, I’m not going to exaggerate, a quarter to a half a mile in both directions. Maybe not for long, but it was a mess while it was going on.”

Thankfully, that nightmare is in the past. And as the bridge was the only bypass for the railroad tracks, Daviess county commissioner Nathan Gabhart said the reopening also eases other safety concerns. 

“It’s extremely important because just in my tenure of nine years, we’ve shut this bridge down over a half dozen times when semis would drive through it and go through the walkway. When this bridge is down and there’s a train on the road, ambulance service, fire trucks, fire responders can’t get across the road and they got to go three miles down the road,” he said. “You add 10 minutes to any sort of emergency, that can be life or death.”

The $4 million bill was split between a $1 million grant from the state of Indiana, $1 million from the town of Montgomery and the final $2 million from the county. 

Daviess County Council President Tony Duncheon said he was proud of how the different levels of government worked together.

“We talked about this for 10 years,” he said. “It takes a while to get everything in motion. The finances, we’re fortunate that in Daviess County, everybody works well together, contractor and everybody worked well so it was a pretty streamlined process.”

The bridge is also named after Kendall J. Murphy, a local firefighter who was killed in the line of duty back in 2017. Healy said he hopes this can serve as another way to honor him. 

“He was a young man who was going to be a very important member of our community and we thought it was justified to name this bridge in his memory,” he said. 

There are still some final touches to put on the bridge– work is continuing to finish up the guardrails on the sidewalk.