Over a month has passed since the devastating I-85 bridge collapse, resulting in a closure that created a gridlock nightmare for metro Atlanta commuters and a major headache for local authorities.
Contractor C.W. Matthews had the enormous task of rebuilding the portion of the bridge that collapsed – presumably the result of a fire set by an indigent man – with completion expected by Memorial Day. Many deemed the effort impossible.
It has become a reality and the bridge opened earlier this month, however, thanks to the tireless dedication put forth by a team comprised of 80 percent Hispanic laborers, such as Jesús Alvarado, who worked day and night to accomplish the goal.
“We worked 24/7. I only took one day off during the whole project, but I feel proud to have done this,” said Alvarado.
According to Daniel Garcia, president of C.W. Matthews, a contruction company which was awarded a $3.1 million bonus for the efficiency of its workers, the efforts of the Hispanics on his team demonstrate just how important this population is to the United States, despite the attacks it continuously faces during these politically turbulent times.
“This has been a phenomenal project. The Hispanic workforce was fundamental, and not just on this project, we depend on them all the time,” said Garcia, who added that Latinos are not just manual laborers, but also “many of the foremen, managers and other construction professionals.”
These men’s faces are the symbol of the thousands of Hispanics whose efforts rebuild this country every day, with the single goal of providing for their families.
“I feel very happy to help the city with the traffic situation, which was a disaster, and we managed to do it really fast,” said Arnulfo Castillo, construction manager for the project.
But this is not the first time that immigrants have stepped up and given their all for this state. In 1996, when the Olympic Games were held in Georgia, construction was delayed, causing predicaments for the local government. Authorities decided to recruit Hispanic laborers, who were able to help move projects forward and forever change the local economy.
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution