CLEVELAND — Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spent the day in Northeast Ohio with Congresswoman Shontel Brown touring some of the local facilities that will be training the workforce that will help implement the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Act. The two toured the Greater Cleveland RTA's training and development hub at Tri-C in Euclid. There they met with the next generation of bus drivers, truck drivers, mechanics, and more. Ohio is set to receive just short of $12 billion in funding over the next five years for roads, bridges, public transit, and more.
"Cleveland screams infrastructure to me," Buttigieg told News 5. "The bridges, the river, the roads, the airports everything about it and creating more opportunities for people in this region is exactly why we worked so hard on this infrastructure bill and why we're moving now to get those dollars to these communities because we know they're going to do a great job."
The next stop was Cleveland's Davis Aerospace and Maritime School, where high school students are learning some of the skills needed for careers in those areas of transportation. Funding these projects is one thing but finding the bodies to pave the roads, make the steel and drive the buses is another.
"Well that's part of what I'm working on and part of why I'm here right now we got the funding lined up now we need to make sure that we have the raw materials, the equipment, and the workforce to actually get it done. The great news is there's going to be lots of good-paying jobs delivering these infrastructure investments but we do need to work with every organization and entity we can. That's why we were at Tri-C today, that's why we're with these high school students today who are actually already getting qualified in a lot of transportation-related work. Working with everybody from organized labor to nonprofits and the business community to make sure that we're ready."
After a brief conversation with new Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, a former RTA Board Member News 5 asked Buttigieg if the mayor had any specific asks?
"Yeah, I found that the mayor is very focused on how to use transportation to enhance the economy and quality and place in life here in Cleveland," Buttigieg said. "We've talked about transit, we've talked about complete streets making sure streets are designed in ways that are safe and benefit everybody. And I expect that we'll see a lot of applications, I expect they'll be very compelling ones from Cleveland and from the surrounding area."
With the $66 billion that Amtrak is getting in the Infrastructure Act for expanded rail in the U.S. the secretary said he hopes the DeWine Administration takes them up on the offer to restore rail service between Cleveland and Cincinnati.
In addition, he said the Port of Cleveland and other Great Lakes ports can help play a vital role in easing supply chain issues and they've been working with them to increase capacity.
"In Cuyahoga County, I see so many examples of why infrastructure matters, not just for transportation buffs like me but for anybody trying to succeed and thrive, to get to school to get to work to make sure that there's goods on the shelves," he said.