DEFIANCE, Ohio — A major bridge in the city of Defiance has been closed since February.

The new Purple Heart Bridge over the Maumee River was opened to traffic Monday.

The old Clinton Street Bridge was originally built in 1930, was closed in February for complete demolition and this new bridge was built from the riverbed up.

The total project cost $8.3 million and widened the driving deck, along with wider pedestrian sidewalks.

It can be hard to see at times but the spans under the bridge were widened as well, creating less on the pier so easier for boating traffic.

No river crossing within the city of Defiance for 280 days was a hard pill to swallow, but now this new bridge is a major upgrade for the community.

"Logistically to the community, it means a lot less headaches. You know people, once this bridge closed, wanted it opened immediately. We had some accidents on the other bridges, people weren't used to those routes. So it's going to make travel so much smoother in our community and make happier people, which is what we're all about," said Defiance County Commissioner Ryan Mack.

Hundreds gathered as the ribbon was cut for the new Clinton street bridge in Defiance.

Construction crews worked extra hours since the summer, to make up for lost time due to wet weather in the spring.

"We experienced a 130-year-flood during this bridges construction, as well as extremely cold temperatures. So, the construction crews, our ODOT District 1 team and Great Lakes Construction did an outstanding job in making sure that this bridge got done on time," said Jack Marchbanks, ODOT director.

With the new bridge, comes a new name, the Purple Heart Bridge.

As an important structure within the city, elected officials wanted to use the new construction as an opportunity to honor those who served.

Purple heart recipients and other veterans were given the chance to walk across the bridge before it was opened to traffic.

"It's not about the individual veterans and us being honored with something like this, it's our hope as purple heart recipients, and veterans as a whole, that it sparks a conversation with someone, that it sparks a conversation with a young person and that it gives someone the opportunity to explain what happened," said commissioner Mack, who himself is a purple heart recipient.

Now there is still plenty of finishing touch work to be done, full construction won't be completed until Summer of 2020. 

ODOT wanted to make sure the driving deck and new bridge crossing was complete and drive-able before winter weather set in.

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