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Inauguration of the Sir Jack Hayward Bridge

Remarks By Sarah St. George, Vice Chairman The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited At the Inauguration of the Sir Jack Hayward Bridge 10a.m, 2nd May 2016 GB Highway, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island

The Rt Hon Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie – Thank you for honouring us today at a time as busy as this for you, Sir.

The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, Min. for Grand Bahama

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and MP for East End, Peter Turnquest, 

MP for West End, Neko Grant,

Kevin Seymour President of The Chamber of Commerce,

Betty Bethel Director of Tourism,

Emrick Seymour Asst. Commissioner of Police,

Sarah Macdonald Chairman of GBPC and Emera Caribbean,

Erika Gates of Grand Bahama Nature Tours,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Family and Friends

I’m simply delighted to be present here today for this happy inauguration of the Sir Jack Hayward Bridge; this is the first major bridge in Grand Bahama since the 1960s so it’s indeed a milestone. As Graham has said, it’s also a very fitting tribute to Sir Jack and I’m truly sorry he is not here with us to share this moment; but I’d like to acknowledge those who represent him – you’ve heard from his grandson Rupert Hayward, and I’d like to mention again Jack’s son Rick Hayward and the wider Hayward family. Also Patricia Bloom and her family Amy and Mike Clough who lived daily and for at least a decade, with both Sir Jack’s dream and his steam when things weren’t progressing at the speed he wished.

We’ve succeeded at last, and of course, erecting anything – erecting this bridge has had its ups and downs. But the saying goes, ‘the Road to Success is an Uphill Run”; except perhaps for Marilyn Monroe, whose Road to Success was said to be a Horizontal Walk… But on this occasion it’s probably more appropriate to quote from the famous British Engineer with the improbable name of; Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who said, “the Road to Success is always Under Construction!”. 

There were also many designs for it. True to form, Sir Jack at first opted for something out of WWll, a perilous-looking metal & wood contraption, known as a ‘Bailey Bridge’ – Jack thought it would give the tourists a thrill. Another creative soul suggested we build a Tunnel under the Canal! Well, inevitably, over time, plans for the bridge grew in size, and stature, practicality - and cost. It went from one to two lanes  - and even now some of you may think it should have Four lanes, but then again the Bible says in Matthew 7 - ‘Narrow is the Road that leads to Life’!

Sir Jack understood that Bridges are among the most powerful and important symbols in human society - symbols of connection, cooperation and harmony. Conversely, in times of conflict bridges take centre stage too - those of you’ve lived long enough, like me, might’ve seen all those Classic Old War Films like A Bridge Too Far, the Guns of Navarone, or Bridge over the River Kwai. And you would also know, back then, someone with the name ‘Wolfgang’ would not have been the hero of the hour as he is today…!

When peace and healing come, you see the construction and rehabilitation of bridges. A few years ago we and Graham gave the Casuarina Bridge and Taino Bridge a makeover costing some $200,000. And Now Today we’re here to unveil this brand new GB Highway bridge. 

So this Bridge is a concrete example of the continued commitment of the GBPA to stimulate economic activity. It symbolizes the principal goal of the founders of Freeport which was to open up the island to new opportunities, new development, and greater prosperity.

It’s here to promote traffic and transit, to and from the airport, the harbour, East and West, and the College of The Bahamas campus where the GBPA has donated $3 million towards the building of dormitories.  But it might also be a Meeting Place for lovers one day – who knows? It does have a footpath!

I’d like to express sincere gratitude to all involved for their commitment to this Bridge, and for remaining steadfast in delivering on that commitment: Graham Torode of Devco and Lusco, Hutchison, Wolfgang Geiger of ABC Construction, Godfrey and Brian of Waugh Construction.  I’d like also to express my deep appreciation to the local community and particularly Cory Cartwright and his team from LUSCO, Sanitation Services, Brad Thompson and his team, Mike Clough and my brother Henry who helped to prepare the site for today’s ceremony. On Saturday, Henry actually set up a table and we had dinner right there on top of the bridge with the Bahamian High Commissioner to London H.E. Eldred Bethel and his wife Dawne.

The bridge itself cost some $4 million plus, and it’s about 100 yards in total length. But it’s never just a bridge – there’s an approach road, an extra ½ mile of repaved roadway either side, not to mention Street Lighting, Bridge Lighting and a $50,000 Roundabout and, last but not least, the landscaping that must accompany all engineering projects in this Garden City. The bridge is 35 feet high – why? Because the Grand Lucayan Waterway intersects the whole island and is in fact used as a short-cut by boaters trying to get for example to Abaco; it’s like Grand 

Bahama’s very own mini Panama Canal!

These things are quite a feat of engineering - when London built the ‘Millenium Bridge’ to commemorate the year 2000, I was one of two thousand people who walked onto it and suddenly, the whole bridge began to sway from side to side; experts said it was worsened by everyone leaning the other way at the same time, which no calculations predicted and so the British authorities were forced to close it again. Now it’s simply known as ‘the Wobbly Bridge’. I’m happy to say, thanks to Wolfgang, up to 50 tons of us can walk across this bridge at the same time today, and also Rick who is doing the Ribbon Cutting has been dieting and definitely lost a few pounds!

 It’s my hope that all persons and things crossing the bridge in whichever direction do so for the purpose of creating happiness, health, wisdom and prosperity. It’s my prayer that the bridge will further unite everyone and our neighbours, multiply the fruits of their labour, and ease the burden of work.

Sadly, Sir Jack never lived to see his dream come true, but that really wasn’t his aim. You’ve heard a lot of poems today but please permit me one more—A propos of gender equality, I’d like to end with a few lines from a poem written 100 years ago by a Woman named Will Allen Dromgoole the granddaughter of a Reverend; taught Law by her father, but who couldn’t become a lawyer because female lawyers weren’t allowed in 1900. It’s called: “The Bridgebuilder” and I think it sums up beautifully the philosophy of Sir Jack, Edward and Sir Albert in their way and I’d like to dedicate it to Sir Jack---

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,

“You are wasting your strength with building here;

 Your journey will end with the ending day,

 You never again will pass this way;

 You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,

 Why build this bridge at evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old grey head;

“Good friend, in the path I came,” he said,

“There followed after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I’m building this bridge for him!” 

Thank you very much,

Sarah St George

ABOUT GBPA


The Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA) gave GBPA responsibility for the development, administration and management, and provision of services within an area called the 'Port Area' (230 sq. miles). GBPA was mandated by this Agreement to build a deep water harbour, an industrial community and required infrastructure for the City.

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