Transportation Chief Buttigieg Rolls Out Funding For Highway Safety Projects on “Investing in America” Tour

By Matthew McMullan
Apr 05 2023 |
Local officials in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico detail plans to improve highway safety while U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) listens. | Source

The White House’s effort to highlight infrastructure and industry projects continues in another state.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig was in New Mexico Tuesday where he talked with local leaders about the federal funding available for improving highway safety along busy wildlife corridors.

It may seem like a funny photo-op to send a cabinet secretary to go hang out under a highway underpass in the rural Mountain West. But the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021 allocates $350 million to fund a pilot program that will issue grants to build more of these wildlife culverts, which will large animals to cross roads without interfering with traffic. Roughly 200 people are killed nationwide each year such collisions, say the feds, and those collisions cost an annual $8 billion. Spending a little on public infrastructure can save the country a lot, Buttigieg said.

“Every part of the state has different needs, and we’re not going to set up all the answers in Washington,” he told television station KOAT. “But we are making sure more of the funding is available for those locally driven plans that are going to make a difference on the ground.”

The secretary was out and about as part of the White House’s “Investing in America” tour, which is sending Biden administration officials and the president himself to 25 states over the next few weeks to talk about federal investments in public infrastructure and domestic industry. On Tuesday Biden was in Minnesota where he toured a Cummins facility that will begin making electrolyzers — a clean energy tech investment spurred by passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — after that company made $1 billion in capital upgrades. Last week U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was in North Carolina touring expanded fiber optic cable factories, spurred by the 2021 infrastructure bill. And today First Lady Jill Biden is in Maine and Vermont where she’s talking about expansion of workforce training programs.

Taken as a whole the tour is meant to highlight the hundreds of billions of dollars of investment the infrastructure bill, the IRA and the CHIPS Act (meant to re-establish the domestic manufacture of semiconductor chips) has created in American industry and manufacturing projects. And the announcements don’t appear to be slowing down: Buttigieg, for instance, today unveiled another grant program worth hundreds of millions of dollars — and also established by the 2021 infrastructure law — that will help repair and upgrade natural gas distribution pipes. The money for that will be shared across 37 projects in 19 states, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation release.

Whether its money spent to prevent methane gas leaks or to reduce the likelihood of a tractor trailer hitting a mule deer, these kinds of infrastructure projects ultimately increase our country’s economic efficiency. And, what’s more, they’re subject to Buy America rules, which means the material used to complete the projects will be made by American workers. Make sure to tell Secretary Buttigieg to cut back on loopholes that undermine these important domestic preference laws.

We’ll be watching for more “Investing in America” tour updates as it continues.