The iconic Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, known locally as the Q Bridge, won a national award for the state and $10,000 for New Haven Promise “scholars” who plan to study engineering.
State Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner James Redeker and city officials were singing from the same song sheet Tuesday at City Hall when he handed over a giant replica of the $10,000 check and then an envelope containing the actual check for that amount to New Haven Promise President Patricia Melton.
The money comes from an award the state received as part of the ninth America’s Transportation Award. The Q Bridge project beat out hundreds of other engineering project entries from around the nation to take the top award. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored the competition. The bridge was dedicated in September 2015 and declared complete by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in November 2016.
“It is a privilege to be commissioner and responsible for the team that spent their lives — many of them their entire career — from concept through engineering, from construction and then ribbon cutting for this phenomenal asset in this region,” Redeker said at City Hall. “It’s and honor to be recognized nationally. That’s a credit to the people who have worked diligently on this project, most all of them are engineers, whether DOT employees, contractors or consultants. It was an immense team that made this happen.
“It couldn’t be done without people committed to this kind of skill set to this degree to applying their engineering skills,” he added. That’s one of the reasons why DOT is donating the money to New Haven Promise, to give back to the community and to encourage young people to enter the field of engineering.
Mayor Toni Harp found symbolism in what the bridge does for the 140,000 drivers who use it to cross the Qunnipiac River each day: She said the money from the award would help will help New Haven Promise continue to provide a bridge over the financial obstacle of going to college.
Tuesday’s press event also was a bit of a bridge between the state DOT and city officials who have been sparring over the fate of Union Station and excess DOT land throughout the city. Harp made it a point to thank the department “for everything from snow plowing to highway maintenance.”
“All of us in New Haven are grateful for the work we’re doing together to plan for the city’s future transportation needs as well,” she added.
New Haven Promise President Patricia Melton said that the program, which provides full tuition for New Haven students to attend a public two- or four-year college or university, is currently supporting 600 students and could add nearly 100 more with this year’s graduating class. She said New Haven promise scholars are already coming back to the city to start their careers.
“We’re already starting to see that return on investment,” Melton said. “We will have to compete against places like Boston and New York, but I think we can. We have the first shot at them and ... our scholars love this city.”
She said the connection to DOT is important as a bridge to future career opportunities. In addition to the money, DOT will also be offering an internship. Redeker also pointed out that a New Haven Promise scholar, Jordy Padilla, actually worked on the Q Bridge. Donating the money and providing the internship, Redeker said, is continuing that legacy of having scholars work for DOT.
“We need engineers to work with us to deliver the future,” he said.