Press Releases

Beyer Hosts Press Conference at Memorial Bridge

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Washington, June 1, 2015 | Tia Shuyler (202-225-4376) | comments
Congressman Don Beyer was joined by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a press conference at Arlington Memorial Bridge to highlight the neglected condition of the bridge and the critical need for Congress to act on infrastructure improvements. Rep. Beyer delivered the following remarks: 

“Please, look at this bridge. Two lanes closed on one of the most important entrances to our nation's capital. We already have the worst traffic congestion in the country, and now this.

“This is not just the symbol, but the reality, of failed leadership. The United States in the richest country in the history of mankind. We’re the democratic leader, the military leader, the human rights leader, the financial leader, the education leader of all the world. Why, oh why, can we not be the investment leader? The country who invests in our infrastructure today, and for our children and grandchildren. 

“I’d like to thank the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration for their vigilance and for their ensuring the safety of the thousands of commuters and tourists who travel the Arlington Memorial Bridge every day.

“The precautionary measures in place today ensure the bridge is safe to travel and we are hopeful these actions will help extend the life of the bridge while emergency repairs are made.

“I would also like to thank Secretary Jewell, Secretary Foxx, Senator Kaine, Congresswoman Norton, and Director Jarvis for being here today to highlight the declining condition of our transportation infrastructure. While Memorial Bridge is a powerful illustration of that, it is only one of nearly 70,000 bridges in the U.S. deemed structurally deficient.

“Most of us here know the Memorial Bridge was built to symbolize the coming together and reunification of a fractured nation following the civil war. It connects the North with the South, and links the memorial built to honor Lincoln with Arlington House – the former home of Robert E. Lee. Today, unfortunately, it also symbolizes the neglect of our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

“For far too long we have avoided having an open and innovative discussion of how to address the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of our country’s deteriorating transportation system.

“There is no question that the current system is as broken as the bridge behind me.”

Earlier this month a single lane of Memorial Bridge was closed after an area of corrosion was discovered in the “bascule” portion of its undercarriage. This week the National Park Service announced that it will close a second lane of traffic on the bridge, which stretches from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial and is a major artery across the Potomac. 

Nearly 68,000 vehicles cross the 83-year-old bridge on a typical work day. These closures are already having a dramatic impact on the region’s rush hour. The cost to fully repair the bridge is estimated at more than $250 million.
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