Pelosi Remarks at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Celebrating the Installation of the Moveable Median Barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge

Jan 12, 2015
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the new movable median barrier installed on the Golden Gate Bridge, which enhances safety for travelers and bridge workers.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. President.  That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

“Mr. President – I wish to associate myself with his remarks in acknowledging so many people who did so much to make today possible – not only today, but safety on an ongoing basis for people who use the Golden Gate Bridge, a source of great pride for us. 

“A big thank you, Dr. Grace Dammann.  Thank you for honoring us with your presence to tell your story.  Bob Alvarado, Steve Kinsey, our friends in labor – Johnny Moylan and Michael Theriault, and, my colleague, Jackie Speier.  On behalf of our colleagues in Congress – many of them north of the bridge – Mike Thompson, Lynn Woolsey then, now Jared Huffman, Barbara Boxer – of course as a congresswoman and a senator, – Senator Feinstein.  We’ve all worked together.  You’ll be hearing from Jackie but I wanted to acknowledge some of the leadership of others over time.  Because the debate on safety, the appeal for resources, the urgency, the need has taken many forms, whether it’s seismic upgrading; whether it’s the Presidio Parkway coming from the Recovery Act; whether it’s issues that relate to the barrier which Barbara Boxer has taken so much of a lead on that we will be addressing this year, and in a couple of years, come together like this to dedicate and now today, of course, this really very, very important movable median barrier ribbon cutting dedication. 


“Janet and others have come into the office over the years on all of these issues.  And I also want to acknowledge the Park Service that plays a role in making all of this have an integrity, a oneness: this bridge, the logistics, the beauty, the safety, the safety, the safety. 

“For nearly 77 years, the Golden Gate Bridge has served as a tribute to the innovative spirit of our city, a symbol of hope for immigrants arriving on our shores, and an economic engine for this entire region.  Ensuring safety on the bridge requires the commitment and expertise of consummate professionals, and we, indeed, have had them – the president named many of them.

“We are grateful for the stewards of this majestic landmark – to you, Mr. President.  Where did you go?  Where did he go?  Thank you, Dick.  And bridge workers and others, who help maintain this iconic image of our city.  I just want to acknowledge a person who was present and worked on the bridge.  His name is Gus Villalta, and he was here on the 75th anniversary.  Many of you met him – a construction worker here, 75 years later.  He came to my office this year to say that he’s still going strong.  We share Italian-American heritage, which I think is something we shared with some of the other workers as well.  So there are many, many reasons to be proud.  I mentioned John Moylan earlier – a representative of labor but also a former president – and Mike Theriault.  Where did he go?  Mike, thank you so much to the workers, the workers that made this all possible. 

“I just had a couple more things I wanted to mention to you.  And I’m confining myself to my notes so that I don’t go on longer than I am supposed to.

“This bridge was built with safety in mind, but we have to remember when it was first imagined, people said: it couldn’t be done; it was too much: it was the fog; it was the site; it was the tide and all the rest.  But we here never take ‘no’ for an answer – not now, not 77, 80 years ago when the construction began. 

“I’m so happy that my granddaughter Bella who is five years old is here because 75 years from now, she’ll be here and saying that I was here when they did something called the ‘zipper truck’.  And maybe they’ll be beyond that by now. 


“The median barrier moved by this zipper truck is the safety innovation of our day.  It’s so exciting.  It’s about safety for drivers; it’s about safety for workers, about workers so that they don’t have to take the risk of moving the columns and the rest of that.  Dr. Grace Dammann who will share her story with us will impress upon us even further the urgency of what is happening today.

“I am just so impressed by this zipper truck; I thought it was just invented for us today.  But I understand from the makers of it that it’s been around for a while.  And we [have] a particularly narrow bridge and now we have an appropriate-sized zipper truck to meet our needs with efficiency and with ease.

“And so again, with Rep. Woolsey and Sen. Feinstein we worked in 2008 to get half a million dollars for this project.  And then Woolsey, Thompson, and others, Jackie and I were able to get almost a million dollars more in the following year, [2009].  We are very grateful to President Obama for the resources he’s placed in the budget for all the issues we talked about – seismic, Presidio Parkway, the barrier, and this important initiative today. 

“So with all of this, we have a slogan that we say: ‘Better Infrastructure, Bigger Paychecks.’ 


“So it’s about safety; it’s about logistics; it’s about quality of life; it’s about preserving our environment by moving people more quickly and more safely and not degrading our environment at the same time, but it’s also about jobs, good-paying jobs – an engine for our economy.  That is what the Golden Gate Bridge is all about.

“Congratulations.  And thank you to all of you who have played a part.  I’m sure that every person in this room could stand up and tell a story of how he or she made today possible.  I know that most of you know about each other’s contribution and leadership.  I want you to know that Jackie and I and tell our colleagues in Congress that this is a worthy initiative; it’s necessary; it’s urgent; it’s cost-effective; it grows the economy; it creates jobs and we had the greatest people in the world getting the job done for us.  So, thank you.


“So now it’s my pleasure to introduce the [president].  Thank you, Mr. President.”

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