It’s open! With no fuss or ceremony Poole’s Twin Sails Bridge welcomed traffic across the Back Water Channel.

Determined to be first across was Dave Ellison, who from his home in West Street had seen the construction of the bridge since June 2010.

“I have watched the bridge from the very beginning,” he said. “I always wanted to be the first one across.”

He realised that dream yesterday morning when he drove his silver Mercedes Viano across from Poole to Hamworthy and made his little piece of history.

The low key opening came after the warning bells sounded and the £21.6million bridge made its scheduled 9.30am lift. Traffic signals were turned on and as the Twin Sails leaves began to come down, traffic cones were whisked away to open the road.

A trickle of vehicles soon built up as drivers realised the bridge was open and came across thumbs raised, with some making multiple trips.

Watching as the first drivers, including councillors and the mayor, Cllr Graham Wilson, drove across the 19 metre long bridge, council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson said: “This does signal that Poole is open for business.

“This is an iconic, world-class structure that has been built in Poole. We have already started to receive outline applications from the land owners around the regeneration sites.”

She added: “The target to build the bridge was two years and it is still within two years from beginning to end.”

Work to resurface the lifting leaves after the road surface cracked and crumbled was completed last week and the bridge handed over to the council from contractors Hochtief (UK) Construction Ltd.

“It has been frustrating for all those involved,” said Julian McLaughlin, head of transportation services. But they were now “confident” they had cured the problem.

After stripping off the road surface it had been re-laid in one thickness, instead of the original three layers. “We are confident that will not cause further problems. It’s similar to what’s on the old Poole Bridge,” he said.

The two bridges will operate in a way to ensure that one is always open to road traffic, and at busy times both, said Mr McLaughlin, with drivers directed across by variable message signs at Hamworthy and Poole town.

Hamworthy councillor Mike White said: “This puts an end to one of the biggest traffic jams in the entire conurbation.”

The Twin Sails Bridge is at the centre of a huge regeneration of brownfield land which over the next 10-15 years is expected to deliver 2,000 homes, up to 5,000 jobs, hotels, waterside walks, public squares and open space.

Poole born and bred former council leader, Brian Leverett, who died before seeing the bridge built, is expected to be honoured with a road named after him on one of the regeneration sites.

Before the Twin Sails Bridge opened to traffic, Julian McLaughlin, head of transportation services was driven over in a sports car for a final “safety check”.

Tony Webber from Hamworthy, who worked at the old power station, now the site where the bridge lands, drove his wife Ann across. “There was no rush but it’s nice to see what it looks like. They have done it nicely,” he said.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Peter Bignell of Hamworthy, having driven across. “I didn’t fall in the water. It looks quite good.”

Janet Scott of Creekmore said: “It’s lovely. We have been waiting for this for quite a while.”

Bridge Champion, Cllr Brian Clements, who drive his wife Anna across said: “It’s just a thrill to be one of the first members of the public to use it.”