Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Corvallis on Wednesday as part of an infrastructure tour with Rep. Peter DeFazio.
DeFazio, who chairs the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Buttigieg held a Corvallis Road Safety Event beginning and then toured the new LTD electric busses at the Lane Transit District Headquarters.
"We built 35,000 lane miles in our 100 largest cities and we're six times as congested in the last 25 years — we need new solutions," said DeFazio.
Buttigieg is out promoting DeFazio's INVEST in America Act and President Biden's American Jobs Plan. A big reason Buttigieg came to Corvallis is that it's part of DeFazio's district and Biden needs DeFazio's help to get his jobs plan passed.
The tour began at an intersection in Corvallis where Hwy 99 runs through downtown. That spot has seen several pedestrians or cyclists killed or seriously hurt along the roadway, including the death of an 11-year-old girl last year.
Buttigieg said safety changes have to be made with roadway deaths climbing among pedestrians and cyclists — even during the pandemic. Although fewer people drove, traffic fatalities increased.
"This is exactly how we give people options. Of course we need to make sure that it's possible for people when they're in a car to be safe We also need to make sure you don't need to drag two tons of metal with you everywhere you go, making it safer and easier not only to drive but to walk, to bike, to take transit," Buttigieg said. "All of these things fit together in a well-designed transportation network that will fund and support all of those things."
Later in Eugene, Buttigieg got behind the wheel of an electric bus, part of Lane County's bus fleet, for a quick spin around the parking lot. Moving toward an all electric fleet in Oregon and around the country is part of the transportation funding package.
"It was a bus, with a driver and all of the things you'd expect a bus to have except for the diesel smoke and the noise," said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg also talked about the need for investments in public transportation to reduce carbon emissions.
"Fires raging as we speak, people being pushed from their homes, Amtrak service cut off between Oregon and California, and this on the heels, of course, of last week's terrible fires," he said.
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