DARTMOUTH - There wasn't much pomp and circumstance, but many residents in South Dartmouth recognized the significance of the Padanaram Causeway reopening.

The causeway has been under total reconstruction for nearly two years, after it closed down in July of 2016. MassDOT crews essentially tore down the original causeway and rebuilt it from the ground up at a cost of $8.27 million.

Luis Pinho lives on the west side of the causeway, but works in Padanaram Village on the east side. He was in line to be one of the first people to drive across the new causeway. Pinho tells WBSM News how he felt about the construction adding 40 minutes to his daily commute.

"Ugh, horrible. I hate driving around," said Pinho. But he felt much better when he gazed upon the freshly paved causeway. "Oh, I love it. It's much simpler."

Greg Nicholas, District Area Construction Engineer for MassDOT, says the causeway had barely been touched since it's original construction in the 1930s.

"Over time, with the water flowing through, a lot of the materials in here have just been washed out," said Nicholas. "If you remember the causeway, it had potholes all through it. Basically, the materials were just disappearing."

The reconstructed causeway features a new road surface, drainage, guard rails, lighting, and structural support.

By noon on Monday, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians happily crossed the causeway had lined up at either end of the causeway to be some of the first to experience it. A Dartmouth fire boat even joined in the celebration, which surprised Nicholas.

"This is the first time I've ever been on a job in 34 years and seen a fire boat out there shooting cannons of water in the air!"

Those who own businesses in Padanaram Village, like Lisa Lofberg, have been anticipating the completion of the causeway's reconstruction.

"Everyone's thrilled! It's been the talk of the town for months now," said Lisa.

Lisa and her husband, John Lofberg, are the owners of the Little Moss restaurant on Bridge Street. The restaurant has been open for about three years, meaning hungry customers haven't been able to utilize the causeway to reach the restaurant for two of those years. John is hoping the reopening spurns a bit more business for them.

"The summer's real busy, but I'm looking forward to see what happens during the offseason," said John. "We want to try to make this kind of a year-round business, and I think (the causeway) will help a lot."

MassDot says there are still sub-structural repairs that need to be performed on the Padanaram Bridge, but there will be no further disruption to traffic as that work continues.

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