Infrastructure ‘money is moving — dirt is flying’: Buttigieg

(NewsNation) — America’s transportation systems are on the mend, but plenty of work lies ahead in restoring infrastructure that United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says has been underfunded for decades.

In an interview on “NewsNation Prime,” Buttigieg spoke about his plans for the nation’s railways, skies and roads. The secretary’s response to infrastructure failures has come under fire several times in the past 12 months, particularly after a February train derailment in Ohio that forced locals to evacuate their homes.

“I think a lot of Americans were woken up to this after what happened earlier this year in (East Palestine) Ohio,” Buttigieg said of the derailment and toxic chemical release. “This country still sees derailments … on a daily basis.”

Now Buttigieg says the “money is moving” and the “dirt is flying” as the nation’s infrastructure investments are put to use.

Infrastructure improvements are underway using funds from President Joe Biden’s sweeping infrastructure bill. It will take time, however, to make up for what Buttigieg called a backlog caused by “40 years of underinvesting.”

“For the first time in a long time, it’s getting better, not worse, because President Biden’s infrastructure legislation is providing the most funding that we’ve had since before I was born to improve roads and bridges, rail and transit, airports and ports, Ferry systems, everything people need to get to where they’re going this country,” Buttigieg said.

But in order to get to the next level, “We’re going to need legislation,” Buttigieg said.

He touted the Railway Safety Act currently in Congress, saying the bipartisan legislation would place accountability on freight rail corporations to quickly adopt tank cars that are more crash-resistant, as well as technology that would help reduce crashes.

As for flight cancellations, the secretary said he can’t control the weather, but staffing more air traffic controllers would help mitigate the risk of a canceled or delayed trip.

Ultimately, he’d like to see about 3,000 additional air traffic controller positions filled to serve as a “buffer” for potential staffing issues that could lead to travel frustrations.

“We’re bringing on 1,500 new ones this year (and) 1,800 next year if we get the funding we’re calling on from Congress,” he said. “We’re working with Congress right now to pass an FAA reauthorization bill covering the next five years that can help with those issues, too.”


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