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Transportation Secretary Buttigieg visits Connecticut's Gold Star Memorial Bridge repairs

US Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg announcing the Federal Grant for the Gold Star Bridge.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announcing the federal grant for repairs to the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in southeastern Connecticut Wednesday to announce a $158 million grant for the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.

It’s one of four major bridge projects in the country to get the initial funding under the latest federal infrastructure spending package.

Buttigieg said investment in infrastructure is essential.

Repair work being undertaken on the Gold Star Bridge.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Workers begin repairs on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.

“It’s not just the big iconic bridges like this,” he said. “Just since the president signed that law, 2,800 bridges around America have been put on the path to being improved or replaced. And this, in turn, of course, is part of the context of investment in all different kinds of infrastructure.”

The Gold Star Memorial Bridge carries more than 40,000 vehicles a day across the Thames River. The crossover between New London and Groton is considered to be one of the essential bridges in the state, allowing goods and the nation's supply chain to move quickly through the Northeast, Buttigieg said.

The bridge is the longest bridge in Connecticut and its northbound side was built during World War II.

The federal grant will help fund the $402 million project to strengthen the bridge and replace its decking. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2029.

The funding was part of an initial selection from President Biden’s competitive bridge investment program, thanks to bipartisan infrastructure spending.

Local and Federal leaders under the Gold Star Bridge.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Local and federal leaders under the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.

About 40 applications requested $11 billion in funding. The money went to creating a network of bridges that help transport goods from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, protecting the Golden Gate Bridge in the face of earthquakes, and renovating the Brent-Spence Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky.

On Wednesday, Biden stood with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky to show off the bipartisanship that was required to pass the latest round of federal infrastructure spending.

The president condemned what he called an “embarrassing” scene of disarray back in Washington, where Republicans have been unable to unify on electing a new House speaker. The GOP senator called the bridge an example of bipartisanship that the “country needs to see.”

“I believe it sends an important message, an important message to the entire country," Biden said. “We can work together. We can get things done."

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.