The long-awaited day has finally arrived – Poole’s Twin Sails Bridge is open to traffic.

The pride of Poole has put its teething troubles behind it and the £21.6million structure is finally open for business.

At 9.38am the first car crossed the bridge.

Local man Dave Ellison, who has watched the construction from his nearby home, was determined to be the first across.

After that, there has been slow occasional traffic, which included the Mayor of Poole Cllr Graham Wilson, who was first to cross from the Hamworthy side.

Work to resurface the lifting leaves, after the problems that saw the road surface crack and then crumble, was successfully completed last week.

And Borough of Poole accepted the structure from contractors Hochtief (UK) Construction Ltd yesterday.

“This really is a fantastic day for Poole,” said Cllr Elaine Atkinson, leader of the council.

“The Twin Sails Bridge provides a much-needed second harbour crossing and unlocks large regeneration sites for the town.”

She added: “Projects of this nature will inevitably experience minor issues and we are pleased that we have been able to complete the construction of the Twin Sails Bridge within two years, which was always our target.”

After a community weekend in February, official party and seal of approval from the Princess Royal in March, the first sign of the low-key opening was when traffic signals and electronic messaging boards in the town centre were switched on and tested after the morning rush hour.

Shortly after the 9.30am lift, the first vehicles were due to be let across the bridge, which will work in conjunction with the 85-year-old Poole Bridge.

They will operate in a way that allows traffic to flow across the Back Water Channel between the town centre and Hamworthy.

The £37million project includes a road design with signs directing vehicles to whichever of the bridges is open to vehicles at that time.

“The new road networks that have been introduced as part of the Twin Sails project have been operating successfully for a number of months and the opening of the Twin Sails Bridge will complete these improvements,” said Julian McLaughlin, head of transportation services.

“In addition to traffic flows, the scheme also offers benefits for pedestrians and cyclists,” he said.

The new bridge is at the centre of one of the largest regeneration schemes in the region and over the next 10-15 years is expected to deliver 2,000 homes and create up to 5,000 jobs.