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The T.I. Bridge span has been of immeasurable value

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The following editorial originally appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of the Watertown Daily Times, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the dedication ceremony for theThousand Islands Bridge:

The value of the Thousand Islands International Bridge to Northern New York and the neighboring portion of Canada cannot be measured.

The beautiful span has brought millions of people to the north country providing not only an internationally known tourist attraction but one of the busiest corridors of commerce in North America. It is fitting that appropriate ceremonies will be held on Thursday to commemorate the opening of the bridge system on Aug. 18, 1938.

Since that day, more than 44.1 million vehicles have crossed the spans, 1,729,766 of these in the fiscal year ending last Feb. 28.

Talk about a successful venture.

This compares with 147,875 vehicles making the crossing in the first fiscal year ending Feb. 28, 1940. The bridge system was conceived by confident proponents, persons of vision, in the late 1920s.

The bridges of the island-hopping system were built during the Depression years of the late 1930s.

The dream of the bridge link between Collins Bay, N.Y., and Ivy Lea, Ont., became reality with its dedication on Aug. 18, 1938.

The bridge has prevailed despite economic woes not of its doing. World War II limited traffic to such an extent that the bridge had to be refinanced by those with confidence it it, who believed better times were coming. How right they were.

The scenic span has helped the economy of both New York State and the Province of Ontario immensely. Free trade has been promoted, and the tourist industry has blossomed.

The construction of the bridge actually paved the way for the building of Interstate Route 81 in the north country.

The vital link to Canada, the bridge, already was there. In addition, the connections with Canada’s Highway 401 were built.

Even the most optimistic traffic forecasts made by engineers have long since been eclipsed.

In fact, at one point early in the planning it was expected that the maximum number of vehicles annually would be 400,000.

The 1 million figure for one year was reached in 1966-1967. Use has spurted in the last two decades.

In the first 30 years 14.5 million vehicles used the bridge. Contrast that with the last 20 years.

The development of the bridge and its maintenance have not been blemished. There has been no hint of any scandal concerning the operation of the structure.

The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority has seen to it that repairs have been timely. Redecking has been accomplished. Finances have been secure.

The attractive span has been the focal point of excellent campaigns aimed at bringing tourists to the north country and the adjoining part of Canada.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister William L. Mackenzie King participated in the dedication of the span in 1938, there were high hopes. These hopes have been more than fulfilled. There is no doubt that more traffic records will be established in years to come.

The bridge, a bustling thoroughfare, remains a highway of good will between two great nations, a fine example of what international cooperation can accomplish.

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