Anacostia has historically faced high unemployment rates and a lack of investment. One of the happy Anacostia residents is Richard LaFontant. His enthusiasm for how this project and its new bridges are helping his community and his native city is unmistakable.
The bridges will mean a rebirth of the local economy
"The bridges are not only a visual sign of development but also a mental boost for citizens and businesses," LaFontant says. "They'll mean a rebirth of the local economy with many new opportunities."
Easier to get from A to B for all
LaFontant praises the increased mobility for vehicles, bikers and pedestrians. Skanska's project features dedicated spans for both commuters using the highway portion of the project and residents wanting only to traverse neighborhoods. Local roads used to be congested by commuters trying to find shortcuts.
"Now both we and commuters can move from A to B without having to go around in circles. It was extremely complicated earlier."
Relieving local streets of congestions and exhaust
Moreover, the new connections open the area for a river view and relieve the local streets of both congestions and exhaust, which of course adds value in the environment.
Lafontant started working on the project site
When work on the new connections began, LaFontant was so intrigued by the USD 379 million project that he stepped into the Skanska site office and applied for work as a skilled laborer. Soon his good spirits gave him a chance to advance.
Joined program helping residents contribute while advancing careers
He was asked to join the project's on-the-job training program. This program aims to help D.C. residents contribute to the project while advancing their careers. To graduate, he needed to complete 1,040 hours of on-site training while working.
"The training was extremely challenging, yet I completed those hours faster than anyone else. I wanted to be on this project, surrounded by winners," says LaFontant. Today he works in the project office as an administrative assistant.
Today handling administrative duties
"I've become an integral part of most administrative duties, including receiving visitors, processing resumes and performing drug screenings. I've stepped up to handling the payroll for this project's 80 hourly workers, and now I'm helping process invoices, too. And I was privileged to be selected to co-chair the 11th Street project's Diversity and Inclusion Week."
Receiving apprecation by neighbors
As a Skanska employee, now he's the one to whom neighbors show their appreciation.
"People bring homemade apple pies and such, saying 'Thank you for building this.' People are grateful and happy. And I'm proud and honored to be part of it."