Former President George H.W. Bush cuts the ribbon at the Mathew J. Lanigan Bridge rededication ceremony on Friday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Former President George H.W. Bush cuts the ribbon at the Mathew J. Lanigan Bridge rededication ceremony on Friday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

KENNEBUNK/KENNEBUNKPORT — In 1933, the opening of the bridge on Route 9 over the Kennebunk River connecting the connecting the two downtowns was a grand affair, with more than 500 in attendance. The rededication of the Mathew J. Lanigan bridge Friday was no different, with an equally impressive crowd, live music, town officials from both sides of the bridge, local girl scouts, and a special visit from former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.
The crowd roared as the 41st president and his wife showed up, and the former first couple gave a friendly wave in response.
Maine Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Nass said it was an honor to have the couple at the ceremony.
“They are true heroes, to the nation, to Maine, but particularly to this community,” he said.
The former bridge had been dedicated to former Kennebunkport Town Selectman Mathew Lanigan, who died in 2012. It had outlived its life span, with widespread steel corrosion in beams. Work on a new $2.7 million bridge began in late December, and last week’s rededication ceremony celebrated its completion and again dedicated the Route 9 bridge to Lanigan.
“It was time for a replacement,” said Nass. He said it was imperative the bridge be completed before the summer tourist season, and he thanked all those involved for their work to meet the goal.
Kennebunk First Selectman Chairman Dick Morin and Kennebunkport First Selectman Chairman Stuart Barwise, like Nass, noted the hard work of all parties involved as well as the collaboration between the two towns, state and private industry.
Morin thanked residents and business owners of both sides of the bridge and visitors to the area for their patience.
The former bridge was dedicated to former Kennebunkport Town Selectman Mathew Lanigan, who died in 2012, and Friday’s ceremony dedicated the new bridge to Lanigan.
Stuart Barwise, chairman of the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen, spoke of Lanigan as a person with many friends who was known for outstanding volunteer service and his commitment to the annual Christmas Prelude festival. Lanigan owned the downtown Kennebunkport shop The Emporium and was a person who loved Kennebunkport and was a great ambassador of the town, said Barwise.
 “Mat was at the center of so much that was wonderful about Kennebunkport,” said Barwise.
— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


Local Daisy Scouts convene at the Kennebunkport side of the Mathew J. Lanigan bridge on Friday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Local Daisy Scouts convene at the Kennebunkport side of the Mathew J. Lanigan bridge on Friday.LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

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