Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce set the tone for the event, emphasizing the importance of the bridge as one of the catalyzing factors in the area's economic revitalization. He saluted the pro-bridge campaigners for their efforts in bringing the bridge to reality. He also noted, that as a resident of the Jewelry District, he is pleased to see the amount of new residential building and conversions underway here. To the surprise of some in the audience, he also announced that the bridge is a key factor in the future of the "Innovation and Design District", a term some locals had not heard before.
In his remarks, Rhode Island department of Transportation Executive Director Peter Alviti echoed the economic importance of the bridge. He went on to say that the bridge design is not merely to get people on bikes and foot across the river, but that in the public features it will offer the bridge will be an attraction in its own right. He said that bridge construction is slated to finish up in two years, at which point work would begin on the parks at the bridge ends.
Following up, 195 District Commission Executive Director Peter McNally pointed out all the projects underway and planned for the area. Besides the massive South Street Landing project and parking garage that dominated the background, he noted that very active progress is being made behind the scenes to bring the multi-phase, million-square foot CV-Wexford project to fruition, progress being made across the river on a mixed-use office and residential structure among other projects.
A certain amount of jubilation was evident among onlookers at the event. JDA and Building Bridges members, Sharon Steele and Olin Thompson, were singled out by one of the speakers for their relentless drive to get the bridge back on track. Furthermore, they appeared pleased that their "air-bridge" (see earlier post) was transforming from balloons into concrete, steel girders and wood decking. Tim Empkie, a leading opponent of the ballpark notion, told an observer that this moment signifies another roadblock to any chance the ballpark will ever resurface. JDA President Arthur Salisbury figures that this signals the point of no return – now virtually nothing can stop the bridge for which the Association has been fighting for nearly a decade.