Community says goodbye to historic Savanna-Sabula bridge

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SAVANNA, Illinois (KWQC) - Motorcycles and cars drove across the Savanna-Sabula bridge on Saturday as part of the "Bridge Fest" event, celebrating the historic bridge ahead of its demolition.

Lew Dennison remembers going across the bridge in the 1930s. He attended the opening ceremony in 1933.

"When all those people got on the bridge, it started to shake. So I'm six, so I started to cry because I thought the bridge was going to fall in the river... That I remember vividly," said Dennison.

Dennison rode across the bridge on a motorcycle for the first time on Saturday.

"I just think it was very special that he was able to get to ride across the bridge on a motorcycle. That he's been around for 90 years and he's never been across the bridge on a motorcycle, but other ways of getting over there, he was able to and I know it was special to him. It means a lot to him," said Julie Hartman, Lew's daughter.

Dennison said the bike and walking path on the new bridge will draw more people.

"A town on a river is a tourist attraction, wherever it might be," he said.

Steve McIntyre said the old bridge was like an old friend.

"It's a whole new landscape. The old bridge was beautiful and it is just wonderful to see this landscape, see this silhouette of this new bridge," said McIntyre.

He said the new bridge will bring more people to Savanna.

"I think it's going to create a lot of economic growth. I think some trucking routes will start coming through here that aren't coming through now and that's going to spur economic growth," he said.

Henry Matthiessen III is the co-owner of Stone Chaos Art Gallery in Savanna.

"A big new bridge going across and a smoother bridge will help enhance the people's experience coming through here, make it a more pleasant ride," he said.

The new bridge will be called the Dale Garner Veterans Memorial Bridge. IDOT officials say the new bridge will open the second week of November.

"It's progress... It happens to everything that's ever built," said Dennison.