monroe — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg touted federal efforts to improve transportation infrastructure during a visit Wednesday to the Port of Monroe, where he said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer jokingly calls him “the secretary to fix the damn things.” roads”.
Buttigieg’s stop in Monroe highlighted upcoming infrastructure investments at the port, which will receive $11 million to help expand cargo capacity, and in the city, which will receive a $24 million grant to build an underpass to eliminate train delays on West Elm Avenue.
The ports of Detroit, Alpena and Marquette will also receive federal funds.
The Biden administration is investing $17 billion in American ports and waterways and the administration announced new actions on Sunday that are expected to strengthen U.S. supply chains, including providing grants to Michigan’s four ports.
“I’m inspired by the mission and the vision and the energy that’s here in Monroe and we’re here to try to make things a little easier and give a boost to everyone who does the work,” said Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is running for president in 2020.
Port of Monroe staff said the $11 million will go toward renovating old infrastructure and building new infrastructure, such as renewable energy cargo containers.
“We’ve been able to take a big step forward. Governor Whitmer makes fun of me that I’m the secretary in charge of fixing the damn roads and I often feel that way in many ways (when) helping mayors, governors and port directors do what they need to do with more federal dollars,” Buttigieg said.
“I never want state leaders to feel pressure to do less on infrastructure because they see we’re doing so much at the federal level,” Buttigieg said. “In fact, the opposite is true, as Michigan has shown, when investments are made with state dollars, that match can unlock federal dollars. In other words, a state that leads in transportation can make us a better partner at the federal level.” .
These projects contribute to “helping people and goods get to where they need to be in an affordable way,” he said.
The $24 million for the Monroe underpass project comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act of 2021. in addition to other subsidies that come to the state for a total of 9.4 billion dollars.
Monroe has transportation connectivity issues that the underpass will solve, Mayor Bob Clark said.
“Our challenge in the city of Monroe is that we have many highways that go from north to south. This (underpass) is from east to west and there are very few passages… in our community, so it is important not only for Monroe residents, but others traveling through the city… and knowing that you can get through without delays,” Clark said.
Clark projects the underpass will be completed in 2026.