Parts of a $397 billion law signed by President Bush last week will aid local New Haven causes such as the nursing shortage and the reconstruction of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents the state’s 3rd district, announced Feb. 13 that the bill — which Congress had not yet passed — would provide funds for Gateway Community College and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, among others. The Connecticut Department Of Transportation, which is undergoing a $1 billion project to restore Interstate Highway 95 in the New Haven corridor, received $3 million for the restoration of the Q-Bridge, as the Pearl Harbor bridge is commonly called.
Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick said the $250,000 appropriation granted to the college is vital to the continuation of its newly-launched associate nursing degree program. With only 27 students enrolled in it, the program cost $500,000 to operate during its first year, and $800,000 this year.
“The college will continue [the nursing initiative] to the extent that it can — because it is such a critical issue in New Haven,” Kendrick said.
The only other time Gateway has solicited a federal appropriation, Kendrick said, was two years ago when the college was undergoing some technological development and needed funding for facilities and staff.
Kendrick said Gateway started the program because of the shortage of qualified nurses in New Haven and around the United States.
“Doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital will tell you they need more nurses,” Kendrick said. “And this is not something [Gateway] is doing alone; something like 70 percent of all associate degree nurses come from community colleges like Gateway.”
College administrators met with DeLauro’s staff and worked out a proposal that proved “extremely satisfactory” to Gateway, Kendrick said.
“[DeLauro’s] help has really strengthened the college’s ability to get that class through the program,” Kendrick said.
In addition to the Gateway appropriation, transportation projects such as the Q-Bridge restoration and the Interstate 95/Interstate 91/Connecticut 34 highway interchange reconstruction will receive federal funds, according to a statement from DeLauro’s office.
Connecticut Department Of Transportation spokesman Mark Rolfe said the department currently faces the strain of the billion-dollar New Haven corridor project, which is more than 25 percent of their budget. Rolfe said the appropriations will help the department accomplish some of its other goals.
“Any earmarks or special funds we can get through other means will benefit us and free up money for other projects elsewhere,” Rolfe said.
Construction on the bridge will begin in 2004 and will last for six years. The new bridge will feature a hybrid deck-supported and cable-stayed architectural style never before built in the United States, and to alleviate traffic concerns, the new bridge will be 10 lanes wide instead of six.
Rolfe said most of the funding for the Connecticut Department of Transportation comes from the federal government — only about 17 percent of the department’s budget comes from the state legislature. Rolfe said that since the New Haven corridor project currently costs more than a quarter of the department’s entire budget, the Department of Transportation could have used more money in appropriations, but the department was glad to receive any extra funds.
Besides the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Gateway Community College, Southern Connecticut State University, Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven, and the maintenance operations of New Haven Harbor also received appropriations.