LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — The bridge over the Lake Junaluska dam is now open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. All are invited to attend a grand opening on Friday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.
The bridge opened ahead of the originally anticipated Oct. 1 completion date and under its $1.2 million budget.
The extended Lake Junaluska community helped raise funds to restore the iconic landmark. More than 400 donors from 20 states gave over $700,000 to reopen the bridge. Givers include several organizations, including the Lake Junaluska Associates, foundations, churches and individuals. A special offering taken at the Western North Carolina Annual Conference in June raised more than $14,000 toward the restoration of the bridge.
“This is a great example of the Lake Junaluska community – those who live here, who recreate here or who have simply visited over the years – coming together to accomplish a common goal,” said Ken Howle, executive director of Lake Junaluska. “Two years ago we had to close the bridge to vehicular traffic, but the end result is a bridge that is built to last for generations to come and will remain an important landmark, cherished by so many.”
When the bridge closed to vehicular traffic in 2016 due to deterioration of the steel support beams, it was unclear whether the bridge would ever be open to vehicular traffic again. In 2017, the Lake Junaluska Board of Trustees voted to restore the bridge to vehicular and pedestrian traffic – a construction project estimated to cost $1.2 million.
RCF Construction, led by owner Mackie McKay, began work on the bridge in April. Jack Carlisle, director of Lake Junaluska Assembly Public Works, helped with permitting and coordination of the project.
“We are thrilled that the bridge’s reconstruction finished ahead of the originally anticipated October 1 open date, and that we were able to keep the bridge open to pedestrians throughout the construction process,” Carlisle said. “Even more exciting is that we expect the final costs will be under the planned $1.2 million budget.”
Service charges collected from property owners at Lake Junaluska will pay for the remaining funds not raised through charitable giving.
All are welcome to attend the bridge opening celebration on Oct. 19 at the south end of the bridge. The celebration will include brief remarks from board and community leaders, a ribbon cutting and a celebratory walk across the bridge led by the drum line of the Tuscola High School marching band.
The south side of the bridge has limited parking, so during the celebration guests are invited to park in the Memorial Chapel parking lot and walk to the celebration via the Asbury Trail. For those who cannot make the walk, shuttles will run from the Memorial Chapel parking lot and the Bethea Welcome Center both before and after the event.
Lake Junaluska is a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information about Lake Junaluska programs and events, visit www.lakejunaluska.com.