June 23 was a day to celebrate in Richmond. After months of major repairs to the Bridge Street Bridge-repairs that made routing automobile traffic through town a major nuisance-the reworked span was finally opened to drivers.
Gov. Jim Douglas made a personal appearance to officially reopen the bridge and include public remarks about the use of federal stimulus funds for overdue repairs to Vermont's crumbling highway and bridge infrastructure.
Completion of the Richmond bridge project marks Vermont's first use of federal taxpayer funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Douglas was joined by Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary David Dill, Federal Highway Administration Deputy Vermont Administrator Larry Dwyer, Richmond Selectboard Chairman Pete Parent and numerous Richmond residents to celebrate the opening of the Richmond Bridge Street Bridge, which unoffically reopened for traffic June 19.
"I want to thank the Agency of Transportation, Federal Highway and the Town of Richmond for their cooperation and hard work to get this project done so quickly," said Douglas. "The quick and wise deployment of ARRA funds will help us make much needed and long overdue improvements to our transportation infrastructure. They will also give our economy a much needed boost during our construction season."
Vermont was awarded $125.8 million in highway and bridge funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the Federal Economic Stimulus Bill. Rehabilitating the troubled Richmond Bridge was Vermont's first transportation project to utilize stimulus funds and create jobs. The long anticipated bridge opening occurred ahead of schedule and allowed the agency of transportation to meet its promise of having traffic back over the bridge before the town's Fourth of July celebrations.
"Thanks to ARRA and our work with transportation leaders in the Legislature, during this construction season we'll have over $103 million in transportation infrastructure projects happening all across Vermont," the governor continued. "That's why I want to remind the traveling public to slow down and pay close attention when driving through work zones and construction areas."