.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today joined Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones and other state officials to get a first-hand look at the $106 million I-95 Bridges Restoration project and reaffirmed President Obama's call for greater infrastructure investment as part of the "Blueprint for an America Built to Last."
"President Obama made clear in his speech last night that investing in transportation means putting people back to work," said Secretary LaHood. "It is projects like this and others all across the country that will improve our infrastructure and spur economic growth."
Secretary LaHood's visit follows President Obama's State of the Union address, in which he called for using funds saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down the debt and on a transportation bill that would clear the way for nation building here in the United States.
LaHood visited workers at the site of the Lombardy Street bridge, the structure most in need of repair among the project's remaining 11 bridges. Construction on the seven-mile-long project began in late 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in 2014. The work extends from Richmond's Lombardy Street to Upham Brook in Henrico County. According to Archer Western Contractors, the project -- which relies on $90 million in federal funds -- is estimated to create jobs for approximately 130 workers.
Conventionally, making concrete piers and other pieces of the bridge's superstructure is done on site, requiring more equipment, space and time -- all contributing to greater project cost, longer construction time and increased inconvenience to drivers. On this project, workers will "prefabricate" bridge elements offsite in nearby Mechanicsville to shorten the project's construction schedule and to minimize inconvenience to area motorists.
When completed, the project will improve safety for the route's estimated 150,000 daily drivers and extend the lifespan of the bridges by at least 50 years. In addition, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation, it will save taxpayers an estimated $9.9 million in ongoing repairs and maintenance costs.
"We have the best highway system in the world, and we need to keep it that way," LaHood added. "Making our roads and bridges safer is one of the wisest investments our nation can make."