Time to play the name game again.
That is because work has started on construction of a new bridge between Haverhill and Groveland
The work is all very preliminary, just clearing the approaches so the actual construction can start, but it is never too early to settle an important part of the work: Naming the bridge.
Officially and legally, it is the William H. Bates Bridge, named for the late Congressman who was active in this district.
Since the naming, many residents of the Groveland area have called it the Bates Bridge, but in Haverhill it is best known as the Groveland Bridge.
So now, or in a couple of years when the new bridge is completed, we must dedicate it in a ceremony that might involve ribbon-cutting and speeches and things of that sort.
So there must be a decision made, somewhere or by someone, about the official name of the new bridge.
Will it be a person from Groveland, one from Haverhill, or a neutral name, like the Bates case?
Choosing names can be tricky. If you give a school a name of a person, you will please one group but possibly anger some others.
Schools, particularly, have been targets for name-choosing in recent years, so the namers have gone the easy way and used geographic names like Golden Hill, after years of schools getting names of people. Good thing Whittier got in there in time or the middle school of that name might have been called Concord Street Swamp School.
Names are not necessarily accurate. The place most call Bradford Square is, officially, Central Square. Actually a name was voted by some city group that named the square for a World War I veteran no one remembers.
Look at the discussion we had about naming the former County Bridge for war veteran Joseph Comeau.
Should there be some government body with a naming policy, like the Planning Board? It's that way it is in some places, where a board must check all new street names, for instance, and limit them to war veterans.
But that doesn't get us to the Groveland-Bates situation. I fear that for many years the new bridge will remain just that: The New Bridge.
You realize that for a while we might be seeing two bridges there because the old one will remain open to traffic while the new one is being built.
Maybe there will be two bridges there for years if the traffic figures justify that, for the sake of handling heavy traffic.
However that is a hurdle for the future and it might even be part of the name discussion. Along, of course, with the decision of who will cut the ribbon and/or drive the first car across the new bridge.
Should there be a contest? Will there be a vote? Will someone nominate the name of the late William "Red" Slavit, Haverhill's longtime harbormaster who monitored the river beneath the bridges? This could be interesting.
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Barney Gallagher has covered Haverhill since 1936 as a reporter, editor and columnist.