Fourteen years ago, then Democratic candidate Jim Himes had an impromptu give-and-take with Republican Congressman Chris Shays who crashed his press conference highlighting inaction to replace the Congress Street Bridge that cut off the heart of the East Side with Downtown, derailing commerce and impacting public safety response time.
On Monday, Himes’ Republican opponent Jayme Stevenson didn’t quite crash the presser but did make her presence known standing off at a distance and conducting media interviews as Himes announced, one week from the election, the timeline to finally begin construction of a new bridge now idle for more than two decades.
Himes noted it’s time to take the politics out of this bridge. Piecing together $24 million, beating back complaints from an adjoining property owner, receiving state and federal approvals including an act of Congress to address navigational issues–to echo the words of City Council President Aidee Nieves, “Bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy”–bogged down the process.
Stevenson has leveraged the bridge as an example of all-talk, no-action.
Himes, backed by Mayor Joe Ganim, Acting Fire Chief Lance Edwards and municipal and state officials, declared the next press conference for the bridge will be a groundbreaking.
When Himes was elected to Congress in 2008, the bridge was in a stuck-open position. He secured federal funding to remove the eaves as a first step in the replacement process. City Economic Development Director Tom Gill announced that contributing to the delay was the mayoral administration of Bill Finch’s loftier goals for the drawbridge.
The Ganim administration, he said, settled on replacing the drawbridge with a stationary artery reducing the cost to a $24 million price tag, backed by state and federal dollars that Finance Director Ken Flatto says are firmly in place.
Bridge construction will go out to bid in January with awarding of contract in May and work commencement in June, according to the timeline released on Monday.
Once the Congress St. Bridge was lock into the up position, at the same time one family ran around purchasing property at a real (Fire Sale Discount).
Can you guess who?
Chris Shays than wanted nothing to do with the Congress Street Bridge replacement!
I don’t know, Jim. I am pretty sure there was a lot more going on in the 90s on the historical
East Side where manufacturing generally took place to cause a fire sale of properties as you stated. Let’s not forget the Jersey barriers throughout the East Side.
No one is really to blame, per se, Congress street bridge took so long because while it’s an easy, more convenient access, a shortcut to downtown the E Washington Bridge is a 10-second drive down the road to serve the city’s needs. That’s why some much politics was at play. No real priority, or need for it. In fact, IMO it was on put up as means. It was Port’s biggest Jersey Barrier. Though it was the route to Pleasant Moments. 🙂
That being said, This bridge is historical. I hope they can preserve some of that history like the street bridge portions leading up to it. Although I am sure that is part of the money/Bureaucracy game being played of government spending. SJ
Is Tom Gill’s presence really needed? Blaming Mayor Finch for a delay based on his :”loftier goal” of a draw bridge is like blaming a parent for choosing what’s best for their child based on price alone. Ganim and Gill’s version means fewer options for harborside real estate — it’s reduction disguised as innovation.
But it was there all along! Kudos to Himes for seizing the moment and piecing it together — at the witching hour he was a man of action.
You are absolutely correct, Local Eyes! If the current administration allows this visionless, cheap quick-fix to proceed — even as Lamont, Himes, and Blumenthal are getting set to be re-elected by Bridgeport votes — then we will definitely have one more big reason to reconsider voting for these guys, as well as the current occupants of our two City Halls and our state delegation…
We used to be Bridge-PORT… I guess that until we are municipally disincorporated and distributed to our surrounding neighbors, we should be looking at a name change… There shouldn’t be any “port” in it, because there is no such activity going on here, presently, and it is becoming increasingly unlikely for the future… The present administration in City Hall is closing down shop on our transportation options on all fronts (bye, bye Bridgeport’s airport — which hasn’t functioned as such during this administration’s tenure, anyway…) (And what happened to UB?!…)
Disgusting what the state and feds have allowed to happen here… And no strong, rational voices from within our CC or state GA delegation… All signs point to a virtually dead, Zombie city…
Jeff, what visionless? Local Eyes is blind as a bat, and you might want to get checked for cataracts. 🤣
E Washington Bridge has always served as the main overpass that has been replaced and repaired throughout the years of its existence. It hasn’t been open in years because Port’s manufacture and transportation have long been gone.
Marcus hit on a point though, about this not being a Federal issue. Outside of them needed to change the navigational usage of the waterway, I would think. This has seemingly been always a state/city issue.
IOM, I have to say, Lamont, Himes, and Blumenthal will likely win this election cycle. Lamont (D,s) pretty much-guarantee his victory when he hired the guy ( R’s) should have run four years ago when the D’s were a hell of a lot more vulnerable. Can someone say, COLLUSION? SMH 🤣
You might even see a Blumenthal in the Senate for some time if Matt takes his throne when Richard retires.
P.S Check your cataracts, Did you know see, the Port is getting better every day? 🙂