The Department of Transportation plans to engage more Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (MWBE) for the rebuilding of the Kosciuszko Bridge that connects Brooklyn and Queens. At a workshop held earlier this month in Long Island City, nearly 150 community stakeholders, construction trade organizations, contractors and government services gathered to learn more about the opportunities.

The approximately $700 million project, expected to be completed by 2020, will replace the current Kosciuszko Bridge with a new bridge on the east side of the existing bridge.

Construction for the project will provide opportunities for specialized subcontractors, including marine engineers, bridge builders, steel and concrete workers, electricians, roadway drainage installers, and traffic signing and road striping companies. The DOT wants to open up these opportunities to MWBEs.

In a recent interview with the ITALAmNewsITAL Acting DOT Commissioner Stanley Gee said that the workers on the project should reflect the bridge’s location.

“This project is located in a diverse community and we want to make sure this community participates,” he said. “Transportation projects serve people and should serve the people who live there.”

The two-day workshop was sponsored the Federal Highway Administration. New York is one of five states in the nation selected to collaborate with the Federal Highway Administration to conduct a New Participation Model workshop, which will help develop a framework for a national model.

“We are looking for MWBEs in all parts of the city,” Gee said. “We want to expand the use of MWBEs and make sure the workforce is local. We are doing this several years in advance to see what services are available and see what we need.”

Gee added that the project will use union labor and will provide several jobs and even training for those new to the field of construction.

Businesses who want to participate can get certified through New York State as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise through DOT. Participation in the federal program is open to small businesses that are at leas 51 percent owned by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals, including minorities and women.

Certification can also be obtained as an MWBE, open to businesses that are at least 51 percent women and/or minority owned.