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Friday, May 16, 2008

AAEA Supported Woodrow Wilson Bridge Replacement

AAEA was the only environmental group in the United States to support the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. When the replacement was proposed, NIMBYs and most other environmental groups opposed the new bridge because they believed it would create more traffic because such an amenity would 'encourage' people to drive their cars. We aggressively disagreed with that assessment and led the environmental fight to get the bridge approved. AAEA presented testimony in favor of the project at the hearings for the bridge and generated positive publicity through press conferences and support rallies. Specifically, we showed that the 12-lane bridge would improve air pollution and family time by getting people to their destinations faster. We also pointed out that bridges do not 'emit' pollution.

Of course, as we have become accustomed to with other such successes, AAEA is getting no public recognition for this great success. This stealth quality seems to apply to much of our good work. Fortunately we live in the age of the Blog. But it appears that we are not alone this time. According to The Washington Post:

"Event organizers said the region's U.S. House delegation could not make the ceremony because of a scheduled vote, an explanation seconded by the office of Rep Frank R. Wolf (R-Va). But U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va) said he, Wolf and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) boycotted the event because they felt snubbed. "Frank and Tom and I were a little bit peeved that we worked as hard as we did to get all that money and were put up in the peanut gallery, and the three people who had nothing to do with it tooted across the bridge," Moran said. He was referring to the two governors and to D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who was not at the event."
The event organizers are the same people who were constantly in contact with us and encouraged our support when all other environmental groups opposed the project. Yet AAEA did not receive an invitation to participate in the dedication ceremony that caused massive complaints from commuters yesterday because of rubbernecking delays. We are finding that our support is appreciated at the proposal stage of project development, but we are not included in the celebrations, recognition and other benefits after the projects are approved and built. Every time we see or cross the new bridge, we will smile at the knowledge that we played a small but significant role in its construction. AAEA will continue to do good work and support projects that we think benefit society and are environmentally friendly.

Drawing: Original rendering of bridge. Courtesy Woodrow Wilson Bridge Center

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