Gov. Deval Patrick has made news recently with a hefty multibillion investment in the state’s transportation system. Long ago, local leaders bankrolled their own costly endeavor that’s become a staple for Boston commuters: the Tobin Bridge.

It took decades -- and getting over the Great Depression -- before Massachusetts officials got their wish for a large span over the Mystic River that connected the Central Artery with cities north of Boston. Beginning construction in 1948, builders would have to pump concrete 132 feet high to reach the top of the forms.

Once the $27 million Mystic River Bridge was complete in 1950, a parade of 100 cars made their way from the State House for its dedication. It was just 17 years later that the bridge was renamed in honor of former Boston mayor and Massachusetts governor Maurice J. Tobin.

But by 1973 the bridge faced the ultimate test when a 10-ton gravel truck hit the bridge’s lower deck, causing the upper deck to collapse onto the truck. The driver of the truck was killed in the accident, and the bridge had to be shut down for two months.

Today, 85,000 vehicles make the daily trek across the Tobin Bridge. The nearly 12,000-foot structure is New England’s largest. At its dedication, then-Governor Paul Dever called it “the first day of life of a modern and greater Boston.

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