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Sunday, May 19, 2024

ICYMI: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg Visit Alabama, Texas, and Ohio to Celebrate Investments that will Reconnect Communities

These trips come as DOT announces a new resource to help communities understand the tools available to support their reconnecting projects 

WASHINGTON — As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing Investing in America Tour, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg traveled last week to Birmingham, AL, Montgomery, AL, Dallas, TX, and Columbus, OH, to celebrate awards that will reshape and reconnect communities.  

The Department also announced progress on the Reconnecting Communities Institute which will assist award grantees and potential grantees with technical assistance on their projects. 

Last month, Secretary Buttigieg and USDOT announced $3.3 billion in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act headed to over 130 different communities in 40 states. These projects—which are planned and led at the local level—will physically stitch communities back together by capping highways, adding new transit routes, adding sidewalks, bridges, bike lanes and more – all to make it easier and safer to get from Point A to Point B.  

Secretary Buttigieg began his tour to highlight these awards in Birmingham by joining Mayor Randall Woodfin and U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell for a walking tour along the historic 4th Street Black Business District which will benefit from the $14.5 million investment from USDOT’s Reconnecting program.

Birmingham, AL: Secretary Buttigieg joins Mayor Woodfin, Congresswoman Sewell, and local leaders on the walking tour of the city’s historic Black Main Street 

Following the tour, the Secretary held a press conference with the other leaders to celebrate the award and share how the investments will reconnect downtown neighborhoods and businesses in Birmingham that were once a thriving community hub before being divided by the construction of Interstate 65 in the 1960s.

Secretary Buttigieg gives remarks
Secretary Buttigieg speaks at the press conference in Birmingham 

The Secretary then headed to Lawson State Community College, a school dedicated to increasing the presence of women in non-traditional occupations like manufacturing. At Lawson State, the Secretary toured the training facility, met with instructors and students, and had the opportunity to try his hand at some robotic training equipment.

Secretary Buttigieg views training equipment at Lawson State Community College
Secretary Buttigieg looks at Robotic Training Equipment at Lawson State Community College

The Secretary also visited Montgomery, where he met with Mayor Steven Reed and visited the site that will benefit from a $36.6 million grant to help revitalize the the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. The project will reconnect residents in West Montgomery to the rest of the community by improving access to public spaces, trails, and transportation options.  

After visiting Alabama, Secretary Buttigieg continued his reconnecting tour with a visit to Dallas, TX, to highlight an $80 million grant that will reconnect neighborhoods by building highway caps in four different locations around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

The Secretary drove past two of the locations that will receive money from this award, and then joined Mayor Eric Johnson, U.S. Congressman Marc Veasey, U.S. Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett, and community leaders for a news conference to celebrate the $80 million award at the site of a future park that will cap I-35 and provide a connection between the South Dallas community and the Dallas Zoo.

Secretary Buttigieg gives remarks in Dallas
Secretary Buttigieg celebrates $80 million award headed to Dallas

Secretary Buttigieg concluded his time in Dallas by convening a roundtable of Dallas-area Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Firm leaders to hear about the successes and challenges these firms have experienced performing work on local infrastructure projects.

Secretary Buttigieg concluded his time in Dallas by convening a roundtable of Dallas-area Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
Secretary Buttigieg listens to Congressman Marc Veasey at a convening of Dallas-area business leaders 

While the Secretary visited Alabama and Texas, Deputy Secretary Trottenberg traveled to Columbus, OH alongside Congresswoman Joyce Beatty to highlight a $41.9 million grant to help develop the West Broad Street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor. This project aims to restore community connectivity and ensure equitable access, mobility, and safety along a busy corridor in Columbus.

Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty at presser
Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty celebrating the funding for Columbus BRT 

During the Secretary and Deputy Secretary’s travel, USDOT shared a new step to help communities on their journey to reconnect.  

Last Thursday, the department announced the award of a contract of up to $27 million to Cadmus Group, Inc. to establish and administer the Reconnecting Communities Institute which will be DOT’s center for learning on restoring and reconnecting communities that have been harmed, isolated, and cut off from opportunity by past transportation choices. The Institute will assist communities in developing and delivering reconnection projects that better connect people to jobs, education, health care, and economic opportunities being created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

See below to read more about the Secretary and Deputy Secretary’s travel: 

Alabama: 

Birmingham Times – Pete Buttigieg in Birmingham’s Historic Black Business District to Highlight Infrastructure Funding 

“We know that the historic Fourth Avenue business district has a very rich legacy of African American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. We also know that we’ve seen the crippling effects of infrastructure policy that has sought to divide us,” Congresswoman Sewell said. “Our people deserve better, and we are so thrilled that the Biden Harris administration is helping us right these wrongs and level the playing field for Fourth Avenue business district.” 

AL.com – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg talks federal funding for Birmingham streets 

Alabama Daily News – Buttigieg champions revitalization effort in visit to Birmingham 

For Birmingham to create a thriving downtown and thriving neighborhoods, “we need streets where a mother can safely push a stroller across a crosswalk,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Our vision is to create a truly multimodal model City, a city where people can walk, ride public transportation or ride a bike to get to their destination. 

Some of the changes may take time, he said. Many in the area are “trapped in a culture of car dependency,” he said. “It will take us some time to undo this infrastructure and redesign our streets and systems. This project is a major step in safer streets with this Fourth Avenue project.” 

Birmingham Watch – Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Announces $14.5M Award to Turn 4th Avenue North Into a Two-Way Street 

“A road can either serve to evacuate or to invigorate the neighborhood, and I know that this area will be invigorated,” the secretary continued. “People will be better able to take a walk, to shop at a local business, to get their haircut, walk to church, to eat at Green Acres – something I’m sincerely looking forward to doing a little later on – and to run into people and have those chance encounters that make cities, cities.” 

WIAT – City of Birmingham awarded $14.5 million grant for 4th Avenue widening project 

“I think a new generation — growing up with a vibrant heart of the city — will form the kind of connections that will set them up socially, educationally and civically for success in the future,” Buttigieg said. 

WBMA-ABC 33 provided live stream coverage. 

Alabama Political Reporter – Mayor Reed, Sec. Buttigieg discuss West Montgomery revitalization efforts 

“I am grateful that Secretary Buttigieg was able to add a visit to Montgomery during his visit to the state today,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed. “Under President Biden and the Secretary’s direction, the Department of Transportation has made a historic investment into West Montgomery that has the potential to reshape and revitalize an area of town that has largely been ignored since 1965. I have really enjoyed getting to know Secretary Buttigieg over the last few years and I am thankful for his leadership.” 
 
Dallas: 

WFAA – Transportation Secretary visits Dallas to celebrate multi-billion dollar project that will provide several bridge parks 

Buttigieg says the projects, which will include bridge parks, will provide a benefit to safety, a benefit to economic development and an equity benefit, as some of the previous divisions left neighborhoods without direct access to essential resources such as schools, employment opportunities, medical facilities and places of worship. 

Dallas Morning News – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, local officials celebrate $80 million in federal funds for local projects 

Dallas Morning News – Deck park funds to ‘bridge the gaps’ in divided Dallas neighborhoods 

The Advocate – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visits I-35 deck park, celebrates $80M in federal grants for Dallas 

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson described the funds as a “momentous, historic investment” into Dallas parks during a celebration held on the completed, first phase of Southern Gateway Park’s deck. The park’s first phase is currently under construction and expected to be completed as early as 2025. 

“As you know if you live here, I am a staunch supporter of our parks,” Johnson said. “We are super fired up in this city about our parks because we believe flourishing parks are not a luxury in a modern city, they are a necessity.” 

NBC5 DFW – Pete Buttigieg in North Texas to help reconnect communities that were split by highways (Video) 
 
Columbus: 

NBC 4 Columbus – Rapid transit corridor project in Columbus receives nearly $42 million 

According to leaders, the rapid transit is designed to decrease commute times, attract new businesses, while also increasing opportunities for more affordable housing. 

“This is a game changer,” said Tracy Cloud, CEO of Lower Lights Health, “This LinkUs is a game changer.” 

Fox 28 Columbus – Multi-million dollar investment aims to improve Columbus public transit 

This investment will help us increase opportunities, invest in infrastructure all through that lens of equity, and that’s why this is so important,” said Columbus mayor, Andrew Ginther. 

State leaders are calling this push a literal game-changer for families. Reliable transportation is crucial to so many across the city of Columbus; city and state leaders indicate it not only helps with mobility, but access to vital services like education and healthcare. 

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Official news published at https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/icymi-us-transportation-secretary-pete-buttigieg-and-deputy-secretary-polly

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