Buttigieg and Chicago officials back Biden’s infra plan


US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined a group of Chicago-area politicians on Friday for a presser at CTA’s 95th Street Red Line station to raise awareness of the importance of adopting the plan President Joe Biden’s infrastructure for the future of our region. Also in attendance were Mayor Lori Lightfoot; president of CTA Dorval Carter Jr .; US Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth; representatives of the US Congress Raja Krishnamurthi, Mike Quigley and Bobby Rush; and other officials.

Biden’s infrastructure plan provides $ 109 billion for upgrades to roads, bridges and other major infrastructure projects, an additional $ 49 billion for public transit and $ 7.5 billion for vehicles electric and buses. The vote on the plan could take place as early as this week.

If the plan passes, Chicago would have a good chance of winning federal funding for the $ 2.3 billion red line extension to 130th Street, a project underway since the Nixon era that would “change the give ”according to Carter.

Lightfoot echoed this sentiment, saying the current CTA system “does not serve all of our communities on the south side equally.” She added that the city is ready to provide the necessary matching funds to secure federal subsidies for public transit. “We will continue to lobby and advocate, but have confidence that we will do the right things on behalf of our residents to ensure that these federal dollars have a catalytic and transformative effect on our city. “

Buttigieg shared a personal anecdote to highlight the need for the extension of the red line. He said that when he lived near South Bend, Indiana, and went to an internship at the NBC 5 offices in downtown Chicago, his trip to the city via the South Shore Line took less time than it currently takes for a resident of the Altgeld Gardens housing project, the future southern terminus of the Red Line, to climb CTA to the Loop. “When you think about fairness – both in terms of who has access to transit and transportation, and who has access to the jobs created by new transit and transportation projects – we know we need to do better. “

“It’s about making sure we have a vision for the next 10, 20, 50 years,” Buttigieg added. “Some of the ideas we’ll be funding with these dollars are out of the box. But it’s not just about what’s ready to shovel, it’s about what’s shovel-worthy.

Duckworth discusses the importance of ADA accessible transit.
Duckworth discusses the importance of ADA accessible transit.

Duckworth, who sits on all Senate infrastructure committees and lost her legs and partial use of her right arm while serving in Iraq, stressed that Biden’s Build Back Better plan would provide funding to help to make all transport stations accessible. She underlined the importance for people with disabilities to be able to use public transport to get to work. “It’s very difficult for others to be successful if we start to leave others behind. “

Buttigieg noted that modernizing transportation infrastructure would help fight climate change, since transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. economy. He argued that whenever we give someone the option to take safe and efficient public transport instead of having to “drag two tons of metal with them wherever they go and then park them somewhere “, we are also meeting Biden’s climate goals.

Buttigieg said he was confident the bill would pass Congress, but not without challenges. “There will be more twists and turns, there’s no doubt about it. What we do know is that Republicans are impatient. The president is impatient. And there is a bipartisan will to get there. If this bill passes, it will be the largest infrastructure bill passed in US history.

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