Transportation Secretary: Thousands of miles of Texas roads in poor condition is ‘unacceptable’

State & Regional

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Pitching the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the $2 trillion expenditure would vastly improve the Lone Star State’s infrastructure and bring jobs to the state.

The plan, Buttigieg said Wednesday in an interview, would bolster investments in Texas — among them — fixing roadways, improve broadband and boost public transportation.

According to the White House, there are 818 bridges and more than 19,400 miles of highway in “poor condition” in Texas.

“That’s unacceptable in the United States of America,” Buttigieg said. “And it demonstrates the consequences of failing to invest over the years.”

“Now we can do something about that, and when we do, we’re going to create millions of good-paying jobs, most of which are available whether you have a college degree or not,” he explained. “We think this is how we set up America to succeed for the long run. It’s roads and bridges, it’s ports and airports, things like that. But also an expanded definition of infrastructure, because things like internet access are as important as access to the interstate highway system in today’s times to be able to win in the economy.”

He also highlighted a need to ensure reliability in the state’s power grid.

“As all of America saw, because of what happened to Texas in the winter, we need to recognize that our power infrastructure is critical infrastructure and needs to have real, serious, major federal investment,” he said.

The American Jobs Plan also includes support for drinking water, child care, manufacturing and home energy.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said he’s talked with local elected officials in the state as well as the Texas Department of Transportation about ways to improve mobility and trade along main thoroughfares like I-27 and I-35.

“What I’m hearing is a real sense of urgency, especially when you have big, wide open spaces, like Texas does, as well as big, densely populated cities that are experiencing a lot of growth,” he said. “Growth is a good thing, but it creates a lot of problems and challenges if you’re in the business of maintaining infrastructures, there’s increased demand.”

“In some cases, that means we need to upgrade and enhance our highways,” he explained. “In other cases, if you just make the highway wider, you’re just going to get more cars. So we’ve got to be smart about giving people alternatives so that cars can travel efficiently and safely, but also, so they have great transit resources and options that you might not need the car, for certain kinds of trips.”

“All of those things have to fit together and what we want are solutions that are going to work for Texans in their day to day lives, getting to school, getting to work and getting to around the community wherever you need to be, and that requires real resources,” he continued. “But let me be clear, we can afford this. In fact, I would argue we can’t afford not to do this and… the plan that the President is putting forward is fully paid for.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday Republicans have laid out a $600 billion alternative that focuses only on improving roads, bridges, waterways, ports and the country’s broadband system.

To view more of the interview between Capitol Correspondent Wes Rapaport and Secretary Buttigieg, watch State of Texas, which airs Sundays on your local Nexstar Texas station.

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