Waynesville - Autumn colors of Western North Carolina provided the perfect backdrop for an afternoon to celebrate Art that Moves You.
The yellow, orange and red leaves will change and twist to the ground in the coming weeks.
But the Howell Mill Road Bridge, complete with an artistic design, will last for generations of motorists and pedestrians in Waynesville.
"This is the kind of investment that will pay off for decades to come," Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said on Monday during an event to celebrate the opening of the bridge.
It's one of the first bridges completed in Governor McCrory's Art That Moves You initiative, which is designed to incorporate local creative design into traditional construction projects. A goal of McCrory's vision is to demonstrate the clever imagination that resides within North Carolina communities.
Art That Moves You draws upon unique qualities to enhance roadways, welcome points and roadways across the state - from mountains to sea - with compelling and creative aesthetics.
In this case, the enhancements include stamped rock forms, bronze anodized metal railing, aesthetic lighting, black chain-length fence and a powder-coated guardrail.
The entire $11.7 million project was originally scheduled for completion last Friday. But it opened to traffic more than four months ahead of schedule, after Mountain Creek Contractors of Catawba completed its work.
Howell Mill Road was widened to two 14-foot lanes with a 12-foot turning lane and the new bridge over a railroad crossing. In addition, a five-foot sideway, a roundabout and the reduction of curves were part of the improvements.
"Projects like this part of the governor's 25-year vision for transportation and in that vision we are all connectors," Tennyson said. "We connect North Carolinians to opportunities."
And those connections are often beautiful.