WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Local and federal leaders held a press conference at the new Frederick Douglass Bridge in southeast D.C. on Wednesday, May 19, after touring the almost complete construction site. The project took almost 20 years to get off the ground, and leaders said the bridge is an example to the rest of the country for what needs to be done for infrastructure.
District residents have watched as the arches were built and the bridge constructed just yards away from the memorial bridge built in 1950. While the bridge brings opportunities to the residents of D.C., leaders said it represents much more.
D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said, “It’s the connective tissue that holds the city together.”
The bridge connects wards seven and eight with the rest of the district, and commuters coming into the city for work and play. The new construction is the biggest infrastructure project in the District, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser. The project took almost 20 years to get off the ground.
House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, said, “In 2004 I started working on this bridge. This is an earmark. It’s creating jobs, a connector to the wards and the state of the Douglass Commonwealth.”
The bridge does more than connect sides of the city together. As Representative Hoyer explained, “It’s not just bricks and mortar. It’s people, jobs.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser later added, “We are focused on how we are going to get more D.C. residents good, union paying jobs, and we know that’s what this project represents.”
The local leaders present and federal leaders such as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Labor agreed the bridge is a model for big infrastructure across the country, and an example of what the American Jobs Plan can do for the nation.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “Taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of the American Jobs Plan. An opportunity, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the investments that are needed for the next generations to thrive, and yes, that includes a lot of our bridges.”
As the project comes to completion in the fall of 2021, and leaders work to pass the American Jobs Plan, Secretary Buttigieg said there are thousands of projects just like this waiting to be taken up.