“’The bathtub’ is not just an obstacle to overcome, it’s a warning sign,” Buttigieg said. “It’s a warning sign that it is long past time to upgrade the entire corridor to be more resilient against the climate crisis.”
The grant includes additional funding to reduce traffic, prevent landslides and avert accidents along I-376, which Buttigieg said carries 44,000 drivers per day.
“I-376 Parkway East Corridor is one of the oldest urban interstates in the U.S. and, frankly, it’s showing its age,” he said. “It is badly congested for about 12 hours every day.”
The funding comes from a $5 billion new Department of Transportation initiative called “The Mega Program” that was created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to fund especially complicated projects. The Pittsburgh-area project is one of 11 across the country to receive funding this round. More than 100 communities applied for the grants.
Buttigieg’s trip to Pittsburgh also included a morning stop at Carnegie Mellon University where he spoke with students studying in Safety 21, a CMU-based collaboration with five other universities funded by the Department of Transportation that is devoted to transportation safety issues. He answered questions about a range of issues, including the impact of autonomous vehicles, equity in bridge construction and new safety regulations at Boeing.
The federal grant also includes money for five electric buses and improvements for passengers along the MLK Jr. East Busway, including a mile of sidewalks that will connect transit stops to communities.
“And to anybody who thinks things like sidewalks or bike infrastructure is just ornamental or nice to have, I want to stress they are an investment in safety as we combat the crisis of roadway deaths in this country,” Buttigieg said. Earlier in the day at CMU, Buttigieg emphasized how even a 1% decrease in road fatalities across the country would be the equivalent of preventing one or two Boeing 737s from crashing.
U.S. Rep. Summer Lee said she used to live on the street in Swissvale along the MLK Jr. East Busway where Buttigieg spoke Friday. Lee said the new investments would prevent accidents, deter traffic and save workers’ time.
“Every moment counts for a workforce who has to calculate with specificity how much time it’s going to take them to get to work and to commute every day,” she said.
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