A broken drawbridge has been in the upright position for the past two weeks in Delray Beach and will stay stuck that way for at least six more weeks — posing a big headache for frustrated neighbors and commuters.
The George Bush bridge on Saturday drew a visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials, who used it as a symbol to illustrate what could be fixed or improved through the $19 billion that Florida is set to receive from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the infrastructure bill.
The Palm Beach County bridge won’t be fixed instantly: Engineers built a new shaft, but they need to replace the machinery parts, which takes time.
The Democratic politicians made speeches and took victory laps regarding the infrastructure bill, but Pelosi and others also noted the malfunctioning bridge makes the two-mile journey to a nearby hospital much longer and reduces revenue for mom-and-pop businesses. They say President Joe Biden’s plan, and funding included in the plan, will address those issues.
“Pretty soon people will have a direct route and not to have to go miles around,” Pelosi said. “That’s pretty important.”
A host of elected officials flanked Pelosi and spoke about the significance of the infrastructure bill, including U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, who represents Florida’s 21st District, which includes parts Palm Beach County; U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who represents Florida’s 24th District, which includes parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties; U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who represents Florida’s 20th District, which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties; Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth and Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia.
Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said the infrastructure bill, and specifically the bridge repair allocation, is about investing in people in the affected communities.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said in November he detected “a lot of pork-barrel spending” in the bill and spokesperson Christina Pushaw said the governor’s office hadn’t yet decided whether it would decline any specific federal funding.
“We are still reviewing the allocations of funding and programs in the bill and have not made a determination on specific portions of the funding at this time,” Pushaw said.
Pelosi responded to a question Saturday about critics who say the work is debt-financed and coming from COVID-19 funds. She said those criticisms come from people who didn’t support the bill. “It’s ‘just vote no, and take the dough,’” she said. “What we have been doing has been paid for.”
Pelosi focused on the myriads ways the infrastructure bill would help. “It’s about safety. It’s about commerce. It’s about health care. It’s about a better America,” she said.
Some of Florida’s $19 billion allotment has been earmarked for the following improvement projects:
- $13.1 billion for highways.
- $2.6 billion for public transportation.
- $1.2 billion for airports.
- $1.6 billion for drinking water.
- $100 million to expand broadband coverage.
The politicians spoke about the impact of the infrastructure bill and the broken bridge.
“This is about the infrastructure in our community, and we are welcoming this infrastructure money because we have a lot to do in our county,” Weinroth said.
Petrolia said the bridge malfunction has made for a tough time for people and businesses. “It’s been very, very devastating for many of them,” she said.
Part of the hope for the infrastructure bill is it will allow communities to do maintenance on bridges.
“We know the most expensive maintenance is no maintenance,” Pelosi said. “We see that here.”
Original story HERE