HERTFORD, NC. (WAVY) — Perquimans County residents were getting ready to say goodbye to the historic “S” bridge when it was scheduled to close next month. Now, they’re grappling with a goodbye that came sooner than expected.

The historic “S” swing bridge carried drivers over the Perquimans River, connecting the town of Hertford to Winfall.

“This is a piece of our history,” said long-time Hertford resident Chris Lane. “It’s on our town logo. It is just something that’s in our hearts.”

The bridge stands tall in the Perquimans River and has since it was built in 1928.

“It’s always been very special to me,” Lane said. “Every morning, going over the bridge, that’s where I’d say my prayers. It just made me feel safe.”

NCDOT officials said the bridge is weakening with age. A $57 million replacement project is in the works to replace the “S” bridge. That started in July of 2019.

Residents like Lane and Harriette Woodard knew they would have to say goodbye to the bridge in July, and then they got bad news.

During a routine bridge inspection in May, crews found a critical part of the bridge had been damaged during a crash.

Officials announced the bridge would close seven weeks ahead of schedule and stay closed.

“Chris called me with the news and I was just devastated,” Woodard said. “I said, ‘I will never get to ride over that bridge again’.”

Lane and Woodard are not ready to say goodbye. That’s why they have big ideas for how a piece of the S bridge could be used as part of a redevelopment project along the Perquimans River.

“It’ll be a walkway and we will have different little businesses, some homes, and possibly a little inn, and this will be used as we will utilize this as the centerpiece,” Woodard said.

“For this community, it’s everything,” Lane said.

Perquimans County manager Frank Heath tells WAVY it’s important to save this piece of history and plans are in the works to potentially make this happen. He adds the county is working with legislators to get the funding.

The new bridge is expected to open to traffic in March of 2022.