---- — AMESBURY -- The long wait for the opening of the Hines bridge came to an unexpectedly abrupt end today.
At around noon, state officials put the word out to local officials: the bridge would be open at 3 p.m. The opening went off without a hitch.
First across the bridge were the parents of Derek Hines, whom the bridge is named for. The Newburyport resident, who served in the U.S. Army, was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. After his parents Steven and Susan Hines of Newburyport passed over the bridge, it was open for general traffic.
The bridge is a vital link between Newburyport and Amesbury. The bridge was shut down in November 2010 so it could be completely rebuilt, from the river bottom up. The old swing bridge was replaced with a new swing bridge, built on piers that were sunk into the bedrock of the Merrimack River.
It had been hoped that the bridge would reopen by last week, in time for Newburyport's annual Yankee Homecoming festival, but problems were discovered in the mechanism that opens the bridge for boat traffic.