ATTLEBORO — While the closed County Street Bridge has been a source of frustration to local residents for over five years, the newly designed span that opened Thursday morning instilled nothing but pride in those that were there to witness its debut.
It wasn't just the smooth pavement, new sidewalks and modern design of the 60-foot span, or even the fact that this key commuter link between Pawtucket and Attleboro had been restored. The real celebration came from the bridge being named in honor of Lynn Goodchild and Shawn Nassaney, a young couple from the local area that tragically perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Goodchild and Nassaney, both 25-years-old, were on their way to a vacation together in Hawaii when the plane they were on was hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.
On Thursday, under sunny skies, state and local officials and a throng of neighborhood residents, friends and relatives of the Goodchild and Nassaney families gathered on the South Attleboro side of the bridge for a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony.
A sign has been erected that formally names the span the “Lynn Goodchild and Shawn Nassaney 9/11 Remembrance Bridge.”
Massachusetts State Rep. George Ross, who was instrumental in the bridge dedication, said the new span had been “a long time coming, to say the least.” He said that besides being an inconvenience to motorists, the closed bridge and resulting detours had hurt both Attleboro and Pawtucket financially.
Ross added that, whatever the reasons behind the numerous delays of the state-run project, he didn't think it mattered anymore because “the bridge will be open, finally.” He added that it was nice to be able to name the bridge after someone special, like the late Lynn Goodchild, from Attleboro, and her boyfriend, Shawn Nassaney, from Pawtucket. The bridge, he said “joins them together.”
Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas also spoke of the importance of the long-awaited new bridge to both local residents and businesses owners “who have been inconvenienced for so, so long.” He added that it was his secretary, Kathleen Ilkowitz, who suggested to city officials that the bridge be named for Lynn Goodchild and Shawn Nassaney, and echoed Ross's sentiments that this idea was immediately embraced by everyone involved with the project.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien also spoke about the benefit of having the bridge re-opened as a link between the two cities. However, he also noted that the morning's event was “about the two families and the remembrances.” He presented the Goodchild and Nassaney families with proclamations from the city.
Pawtucket City Council President David Moran, who represents District 1, and Councilor-at-large Albert Vitali, were also present at the event, along with representatives from the Massachusetts Highway Department, members of the Attleboro City Council, Massachusetts State Rep. Steven Howitt, the Attleboro Police and Fire Chiefs and local veterans.
Massachusetts State Rep. Betty Poirier said that the naming of the bridge helps ensure that Lynn Goodchild and Shawn Nassaney “will always be remembered.” She also said that it “sends the message that we will never forget those who were sacrificed in the attack of 9/11,” including the many civilians as well as those in the military.
Sen. James E. Timilty also noted that it was “important to remember the two individuals we lost 10 years ago in that cowardly attack.” He added that Goodchild and Nassaney were just two out of nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives to the terrorists that day.
The ribbon was cut by mayors Dumas and Grebien, along with Lynn Goodchild's parents, Bill and Ellen Goodchild of Attleboro, and Shawn Nassaney's parents, Patrick and Margaret Nassaney, of Millville, Mass.
Bill Goodchild said that while the pain of losing his daughter is “different now,” it still remains, and he never stops wondering about what this bright and energetic young women and her equally bright and energetic boyfriend could have accomplished, had they not lost their lives that terrible day. “We have history, but we have no future...everything we have of Lynn and Shawn is a memory,” he said.
Goodchild added, however, that things like the bridge dedication and the other fund raising events and scholarships that exist in the couple's names “helps.” “The community has been very good to us,” he said. He added that the bridge dedication was “unexpected” and said it was “a great honor to have a daughter remembered in this way.”
Patrick Nassaney, a Pawtucket resident for 40 years, also said that the tremendous outpouring of support from city officials and members of both communities is appreciated by him and his wife, Margaret, especially since a decade has gone by since Shawn and Lynn's passing. “To have them commemorated 10 years later like this is wonderful,” he said.
Like Bill Goodchild, he said he also laments the premature loss of “two special young adults” who were energetic, athletic, and so full of life and hope. He noted that both were going for a Masters in Business Administration degree at Providence College at the time of their deaths, and wonders about what they could have achieved “if you look at what they accomplished in that short time.”
Local officials also noted how the re-opened bridge will help some of the area's businesses that have been stalled in the current economy. Pawtucket Councilors David Moran and Albert Vitali said the improvements should boost business for some of the gas stations and stores along Newport Avenue while State Rep. Steven Howitt said that having the street open again will “make life a little easier for the commuters from Seekonk.”
Once the red, white and blue ribbon was snipped, the Goodchild and Nassaney families walked over the bridge. The first official vehicle to drive over was Attleboro Fire Engine 5, followed by an SUV containing Rep. George Ross, who waved to onlookers. Next in line was Councilor Albert Vitali, who christened the new pavement on his motorcycle, saluting the fire truck as it passed by him on its return.