As I recently blogged, this summer is shaping up to be the most active Recovery Act season yet. Across the country, Americans are getting back to work on important local projects that had previously been at a standstill due to lack of funding.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez visited one of these projects last Friday when he traveled to Atlanta to witness the demolition of the Mitchell Street Bridge. Construction of a replacement bridge will get underway soon.
Although the new bridge isn’t expected to open until 2012, this project is already fulfilling President Obama's pledge to support good jobs, improve our national infrastructure, and create new opportunities for local economic growth.
Until recently, the Mitchell Street Bridge, a key crossing over the Norfolk Southern railroad, had been helping Atlanta residents get around since 1924. But, back in March 2008, Georgia officials were forced to close the bridge to all traffic. Structural deficiencies had made it unsafe for travel.
Now, this was a real blow to the people in Atlanta. They lost a vital connection to the downtown area that was used by thousands of commuters, trucks, and transit buses each day. And there just wasn’t enough money available in the budget to make the necessary fixes that would get this bridge up and running again.
But, because of $8.8 million in Recovery Act money, things are looking up for Atlantans. Friday's demolition clears the way for the construction of a better, safer bridge that will ease congestion and improve access to downtown attractions like the Atlanta Federal Center, the Georgia Dome, and the CNN Center.
Of course, this isn't the only benefit. The Mitchell Street Bridge project is also creating jobs. About 120 people are being put to work on the reconstruction effort. And the positive effects of those jobs will be felt throughout the entire community, as contractors buy supplies from local businesses and workers spend their paychecks on food and other needs for their families.
Even better, this is just one of the 369 highway projects the Recovery Act is paying for in Georgia. As FHWA Administrator Mendez said on Friday, “These projects are creating thousands of jobs. They are making roads safer and travel easier, and they will help people spend more time with family and friends and less time stuck in traffic.”
Drivers in downtown Atlanta are one step closer to having a newer, safer bridge to call their own. And, as President Obama recently said, we're all one step closer to "rebuilding America's economy by rebuilding America."