SHUSHAN, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In the small Washington County community of Shushan, a bridge makes all the difference in the world. The town has gone through two – and this week, a third was welcomed into the community.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, a new bridge was unveiled over the Batten Kill coming into Shushan, connecting Route 61 to Route 64A. Words were shared by Washington County Public Works Superintendent Deb Donohue, who imparted memories of the bridge that she and most other town residents remember most fondly.

“I learned from the steel deck bridge that I’m afraid of heights – you’ll notice that this one isn’t see-through,” Donohue said, standing on the back of a pickup truck with microphone in hand. “I also learned to drive on this bridge, and – dad, don’t listen to this story – it was a little squirrely when it was wet and you were going too fast over it.”

The first was a covered bridge, installed in 1858 to carry early families to town. When it was retired, it was replaced by a steel deck bridge in 1968. Now, a third generation of bridgework takes the stage, comprised of steel girders and concrete.

Shushan’s first bridge was a covered bridge, installed in 1858 to carry early families to town. When it was retired, it was moved just up the river, where it welcomes visitors as a local history museum. In 1968, it was replaced by the recently-retired pin-and-hanger steel deck bridge.

The previous bridge was closed in July. The project to replace it was fueled by $3.3 million, with 80% funded federally. Another 15% came from the state, and the last 5% locally. The bridge was put together by a roughly four-person crew from Winn Construction.

The months that the bridge was out of operation made for longer travel for residents of Shushan and the neighboring town of Jackson. The patience of the locals was not forgotten during the ceremony.

“I had a lot of folks tell me that when the bridge was out, it added 10 to 12 miles to their commute,” said resident Jay Skellie. “That’s half a gallon of gas. At $5 a gallon, that’s a lot of money for people.”

A ribbon was cut and a bottle of champagne was broken in order to christen the new bridge to carry a new generation of traffic through the community.