U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and U.S. Representatives Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Mark Critz (D-Pa.) praised the announcement that the National Park Service has received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Transportation Department to improve access to the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The senators and representatives sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in January to express their support for this grant.
"The brave passengers on Flight 93 deserve to be recognized for their valor and sacrifice," Sen. Casey said. "This grant will bring the Flight 93 National Memorial closer to completion, and I look forward to the day when the families of the passengers of Flight 93 - and all Americans - have a permanent symbol of our nation's resolve."
"The events of Sept. 11 forever changed our nation, and we must honor and remember those affected by that day. This memorial pays tribute to these fallen heroes and reminds the American people of their tremendous sacrifices, and this grant will put the Flight 93 Memorial one important step closer to completion," Sen. Toomey said.
"This grant will make it easier for the millions of visitors who come to the Flight 93 Memorial every year to honor the heroes who led the first counterattack in the war on terror. I was proud to join my colleagues from Pennsylvania in supporting this grant from the Department of Transportation and look forward to continuing to work together to complete the final phases of this project," Rep. Shuster said.
"The construction of a wetlands pedestrian bridge will enhance the Flight 93 Memorial and improve the overall experience for the hundreds-of-thousands of annual visitors to the site," Rep. Critz said. "While the Flight 93 Memorial was officially dedicated last September, additional phases of construction and site improvements remain to be completed. This $3 million grant is another one of those puzzle pieces, allowing us to continue building the site into a fitting memorial to honor and remember the sacrifices of the passengers and crew of Flight 93."
Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk thanked the senators and representatives for their help securing this grant.
"Having spent the last few days with several members of the families of Flight 93, I know they will be gratified to hear the news to upgrade the facility near Shanksville. This bridge will add to the overall experience of those who visit the crash site to pay their respects to the 40 heroes who were the first to die fighting the war on terror," Commissioner Vatavuk said.
The full text of the letter to Secretary LaHood is below.
Jan. 31, 2012
The Honorable Ray LaHood
Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood:
We write to express our support for two recently submitted Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program (PLHDP) grant applications for the Flight 93 National Memorial.
As you are aware, significant infrastructure improvements have been made to the Flight 93 National Memorial through the Office of Federal Lands Highway. The investment turned a dangerous gravel coal truck road leading to the crash site into a new two mile entrance and approach road directly off of US Route 30 providing access to the memorial. This has helped to enable the almost 2 million visitors pay their respects to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who, on Sept. 11, 2001, courageously gave their lives thereby thwarting an attack on our nation's capital.
The National Park Service submitted PLHDP grant applications for two key projects at the memorial. The first requests $2 million for the Phase 1B construction of a wetlands pedestrian bridge. This will allow visitors to cross a series of wetlands and ponds adjacent to the crash site, referred to as the Sacred Ground, which were preserved as natural features in the design and construction of the memorial. The wetlands serve as a naturally-occurring reservoir for irrigation and for storm water that will flow down from higher elevations, while providing visitors with a place of healing and reflection. The construction of the pedestrian bridge is currently covered under the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Permit and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection 401 Water Quality Certification.
The second PLHDB grant application seeks $1.2 million for the memorial's return road, which is an integral component of site design. Construction of the one-way return road will provide an alternative route back to the main park entrance road. This will eliminate potentially conflicting traffic movements, especially during peak demand periods and during construction activities for the Visitor Center.
While significant progress has been made, there is much that remains to be done to ensure that all phases of the memorial as envisioned by the design supported by the Families of Flight 93, National Park Service, and local community become a reality. At the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial this past September, former President Bush, former President Clinton, Vice President Biden and Secretary Salazar all spoke about the importance of completing this memorial in order to honor both the heroes aboard and our nation's resolve.
Consistent with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, we request that you keep us informed of the status of these applications. Thank you for considerations of our views.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.,
United States Senator
United States Senator
Member of Congress
Member of Congress