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Maryland’s $6 billion bridge rebuild offers a link to good jobs | READER COMMENTARY

Traffic flows along interchanges that link the Capital Beltway and I-270. File. (Katherine Frey/Washington Post).
Traffic flows along interchanges that link the Capital Beltway and I-270. File. (Katherine Frey/Washington Post). (Katherine Frey / The Washington Post)

Legislation now pending in Congress — the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework — will inject desperately-needed investment into our nation’s infrastructure. Equally important is that the legislation will create good, family-supporting jobs, and that’s something Marylanders can be proud of already being on the road to accomplishing through the redevelopment of the Capital Beltway’s American Legion Memorial Bridge connecting Montgomery County with Fairfax County, Virginia (”Public-private plan for Capital Beltway, I-270 toll lanes moves ahead with Maryland Board of Public Works vote,” Aug. 11).

Maryland officials recently took a major step toward replacing the nearly 60-year-old bridge and upgrading highway lanes north of the structure by contracting for project planning and design. And they have taken a stand to make sure such transportation projects provide family-sustaining jobs for the state’s working people.

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Both state officials and a consortium of companies moved forward with project planning when the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to sign onto the use of a so-called “project labor agreement” for construction. Such agreements typically require payment of locally prevailing wages, health care benefits, training requirements and safety protections, as well as mandating the use of local and minority workers and contractors. These agreements encourage the development of family-supporting, life-long careers for workers and a skilled labor pool for employers.

The project, valued at an estimated $6 billion, would create an estimated 7,500 construction jobs. Making these jobs good jobs only adds to the positive economic impact of bridge and highway construction. This is an example of how to do infrastructure the right way. State Comptroller Peter Franchot deserves a salute for insisting on broad participation through the use of a strong project labor agreement. As Gov. Larry Hogan said in backing the project, it is “transformative.” It will not only be a sorely needed, traffic-busting modern bridge and roadway — it will also be a path to strengthen the middle class.

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Dennis L. Martire, Leesburg, Virginia

The writer is vice president and Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

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