Connecticut Finally Celebrates the Little Bridge That Could

Posted 04/12/12 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Building Trails, Success Stories

Photo © Hartford Courant

"...I was standing before the newly built Andover covered bridge spanning Route 316, half disbelieving it was really in front of me. I pinched my arm. I rubbed my eyes. I put one foot in front of the other. I told myself I wasn't going to be like Wile E. Coyote and get halfway across the span, only to discover it was just a mirage and wave goodbye as I plunged into a cloud of dust far below. Out of the corner of my eye, I swear I saw a pig flying by...."

So wrote Peter Marteka, the hiking and outdoor recreation columnist for the Hartford Courant in central Connecticut, earlier this month. Marteka is certainly not the only person to have wondered from time to time whether the much-anticipated bridge over what has come to be known as the 'Andover Gap' along the Hop River State Park Trail would ever be complete.

It wasn't just Andover locals pacing and fretting. The gap in the trail was a key fracture in the regional trail system and a crucial missing-link in the East Coast Greenway, an effort to connect a continuous trail system from the Canadian border to Florida.

And so when the bridge was finally put in place in a public ceremony on the last day of March this year, the rounds of applause, and the sighs of relief, could be heard from Calais to Key West.

"The bridge went up and within moments people were gravitating to it. No longer is it a dangerous impediment," said Rep. Pamela Z. Sawyer, who had worked for this moment since 2002. As Marteka writes in his column, the dream of Sawyer, a Connecticut House Republican and staunch advocate of trails, to bridge the 'Andover Gap' outlasted three governors, five state Department of Transportation commissioners and four Andover first selectmen.

A well-deserved pat on the back to all those who worked so hard to make this vital improvement to the Northeast's trail system.

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