Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) celebrated at $142 million investment in local infrastructure in western Pennsylvania Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 (Capital-Star photo)
SWISSVALE — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said it was unusual for him, as the father of twin toddlers, to find himself in anything but a pro-bathtub position, given the role of bath time in his family’s routine.
“But this is not that kind of bathtub,” Buttigieg said during a visit to Pittsburgh on Friday. He was in the region to tout $142 million in federal funding for local infrastructure projects.
The “bathtub” in question is a portion of Interstate 376 that runs through Downtown Pittsburgh, more formally known as the 10th Street Bypass. The section of road sits close to the bank of the Monongahela River and forms a basin, so that it regularly floods whenever there’s heavy rain. Part of the funding will help build a new wall along the river to help prevent that flooding.
“I don’t have to tell you flooding, along this stretch of I-376 can go longer than 600 yards—six football fields end to end— causing detours, dangerous crashes and weaker infrastructure overall,” Buttigieg told a gathering at the Swissvale bus station east of Pittsburgh. “It is long past time to upgrade the entire corridor to be more resilient against the climate crisis.”
The funding, which President Joe Biden spotlighted in Wisconsin on Thursday, is part of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021. In addition to building a new wall along the 10th Street Bypass, funding will be used in the Pittsburgh region to rehabilitate 10 bridges along the I-376 corridor, and build a ramp to connect the stretch of 376 known as the Parkway East with Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s Martin Luther King., Jr. East Busway.
Buttigieg was joined by Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, and members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation, including U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, and U.S. Reps. Chris Deluzio (D-17th District), and Summer Lee (D-12th District). “We wouldn’t be here today without the work of this delegation,” Buttigieg said.
Lee noted she grew up on the same street where the Swissvale bus station is located.
“The funding isn’t just about roads and buses,” Lee said. “This is about people, it’s about jobs and it’s about the quality of life here in this region.” The Parkway East has been ranked as the fifth-most congested highway in the country, she noted, but “will have less traffic soon, fewer accidents and be much more efficient. The funding we’re celebrating today is a promise of change and a promise of time, time back that belongs to your family and to your loved ones.”
Innamorato thanked her predecessor, former county executive Rich Fitzgerald, for working to secure the funding for the region. “Governing and securing funding for a project of this magnitude is a team sport, and it’s taken a lot of work for us to get to this moment,” Innamorato said, thanking Lee and Deluzio as well
“And finally to Secretary Buttigieg and the Biden administration, thank you for your vision and helping to support grants and investments like this, that are so critical to regions like Allegheny County across the United States.”
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