March 19, 2021 – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – speaking at the virtual South by Southwest festival – said that the United States has a “once in a century opportunity” to push forward infrastructure reforms and added that the country is on the verge of an “infrastructure season” that could potentially turn into an “infrastructure decade.” Buttigieg said that it is time Infrastructure Week stopped being a punchline. “We kept getting our hopes up for something big to happen on infrastructure and it never did,” he said.
The new transportation secretary said his vision of 21st century infrastructure includes the “unglamorous” task of repairing the roads and bridges across the country, while making sure transportation plays a critical role in helping battle climate change.
Buttigieg’s remarks come on the heels of executives from Wall Street, major corporations and private equity firms engaging with the White House and officials in the Transportation Department about how to pay for a potential infrastructure bill.
Ed Mortimer, the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of transportation and infrastructure, told CNBC in an interview that it has had regular communications with Biden White House officials and the DOT on infrastructure, including discussions on payment methods. The Chamber has proposed temporarily raising the gas tax as one way to pay for the plan. Buttigieg has publicly pushed back on raising the gas tax.