With IIJA Passed, Buttigieg Says ‘Real Work Begins’

The $1.2 trillion bill set aside $100 billion for transportation-related projects.

According to American City & County, traffic fatalities across the United States spiked last year, increasing by a little more than 7 percent over the 36,096 roadway deaths recorded in 2019, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This year, fatalities are rising at an even steeper rate. A report released by the traffic safety administration at the end of October documents “the largest six-month increase ever recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history. An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, up 18.4 percent over 2020. That’s the largest number of projected fatalities in that time period since 2006,” reads a statement about the findings.

Included in the Biden Administration’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is $100 billion set aside for transportation-related projects distributed through competitive grants via the U.S. Department of Transportation—investments that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg hopes will curb the rising number of highway-related deaths. Notably, this funding includes $5 billion for the Safe Streets and Roads for All program, a new initiative that’s set to provide highway safety grants to areas that need them most.

With the bill signed into law by Pres. Joe Biden last week, “The real work begins. We‘re really going to be looking to you to deliver on the investment,” said Buttigieg, while speaking at the National League of City’s annual City Summit last week, which was hosted in a virtual format this year. “The priorities are many and they are urgent—improving and expanding access to transit for communities that need it most,” spurring economic development, hardening infrastructure against climate change and repairing crumbling roads and bridges.

“Make sure you have vision, and that vision needs to be informed by on-the-ground listening. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know … but cities and communities need to be very intentional about hearing from folks who might not consider themselves to be transportation wonks, who may not be accustomed to be inviting to the table but are those who are most likely to be disproportionately killed or injured on our roadways,” Buttigieg said. “Make sure there are mechanisms—and they could be low tech mechanisms—ways to get those kinds of voices into the picture.”

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Buttigieg: With infrastructure bill signed, ‘the real work begins’ on transportation needs