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Advancing a “big, bold” infrastructure policy measure with an emphasis on climate change is a priority for President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The top Democrat in the Senate, who met with Pete Buttigieg, formerly the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said he shared the nominee’s strong interest in helping to produce a massive, transformative transportation package in the coming months.
The infrastructure legislation would look to ameliorate heavy congestion along freight corridors, facilitate access to public transportation systems and expand programs linked to electric and autonomous vehicles. Schumer also said he promoted the need for ensuring employment opportunities across the transportation sector, as well as paving the way for a new tunnel network between New York and New Jersey.
“We discussed the need to finally deliver on a big, bold infrastructure agenda that centers on jobs, equity and climate,” the senator from New York said Dec. 30 after meeting with Buttigieg. “We discussed several crucial New York-specific projects, including one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country, the Gateway Program and DOT’s role in helping secure the future for the entire Northeast Corridor.”
The urgency associated with addressing the pandemic’s impact on the transportation modes also dominated part of the two officials’ conversation. Congress recently approved a new round of COVID-19 relief aid, which directed funds to transportation sectors.
“With the coronavirus pandemic upending our economy, including areas of the transportation sector like airlines and hard-hit public transit systems, Pete and I discussed the need to continue delivering relief to workers in those industries in future COVID-19 relief legislation,” Schumer said.
He added, “I am thrilled to finally have a willing and effective ally in the administration and White House who will work with Congress to use transportation projects as an opportunity to create jobs, grow our economy and address the climate crisis.”
In this year in review episode, we discuss COVID and everything from gas tax to remote work. With the help of our special Transport Topics guests, Seth Clevenger and Eleanor Lamb, we’ll also begin to map a plan for 2021. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
If Democrats win two Georgia senatorial contests this month, Schumer likely would take over as the chamber’s leader.
Since tapped by Biden last month to manage transportation policy in his cabinet, Buttigieg has pointed to climate change, workforce opportunities and safety as key initiatives for his tenure at the department. As a candidate, Buttigieg argued for potential investments in roadway connectivity that would reduce congestion. Programs that would modernize last-mile delivery segments also were touted by the former mayor.
The Biden administration is expected to propose a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package. Prior to the election, Biden called for the enactment of a 10-year, $1.3 trillion plan. The Biden plan would dedicate $50 billion for fixing highways and bridges, and $5 billion over five years to electric vehicle batteries. The plan also would target $400 billion over a decade for research and innovation of clean energy, and $20 billion for rural broadband. Additionally, $5 billion would target states to promote small businesses.
“We should be leading the world when it comes to transportation infrastructure, not catching up,” the former mayor said on MSNBC last month. “Safety is the fundamental reason why we need to make sure that our bridges, and our roads, for example, are in better shape than they are today. And I do think there’s a bipartisan awareness of how important that is.”
Buttigieg would succeed Elaine Chao if confirmed by the Senate.
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