LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A Lauderdale County community is one step closer to a faster commute. After being closed for years, a bridge carrying some major traffic is finally re-opening.

On Monday, the first car went across the County Road 16 bridge for the first time in eight years.

The bridge closure forced drivers to have to drive 20 minutes around the area for years. Now, residents, first responders, school buses, etc. can get where they need to go much faster.

“I walked on a swinging bridge until I was seven years old, and then they built the other bridge. We had a swinging bridge that went across here that you could walk on… and then when they put this bridge in, of course, they did away with it, but I had to walk to school… At 95 years old, this is mighty nice, so I’m one that’s really proud of it,” Ed Lovelace, resident, told News 19.

First responders say this bridge is also a big help for the community because it will allow them to get to calls faster, helping them better protect the people they serve.

Retired Fire Chief of the Central Volunteer Fire Department, Wesley Smith, recalled an accident on the other side of the bridge where they were called to bring the ‘jaws of life,’ a rescue tool used when someone is stuck in a car accident. “We were the closest but we couldn’t access it… To me, the big issue was the safety factor of moving emergency equipment,” Smith said.

Schools will also be able to get kids to class faster, with less time required for bus drivers to pick-up and drop off students.

“It cost us an extra 200 miles per week to bypass this bridge… This is a huge deal for us at the school district, ” Fay Parker, former Transportation Director for Lauderdale County Schools told News 19.

While the ribbon cutting was on Monday, the official opening of the bridge will not happen until the end of the week after crews have finished striping and putting up signs.

Once the two-lane bridge is open, the speed limit will be 25 mph.