Maximizing infrastructure ‘impact’ means ‘routing new dollars through old plumbing’: Transportation Secretary

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg oversees a huge chunk of the new $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill: roads, bridges, ports, airports, railways and more are his responsibility.

That’s about half of the new $ 550 billion in spending, including $ 110 billion on land, another $ 105 billion on rail, and $ 42 billion on seaports and airports.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance Live on Monday, Buttigieg outlined the next steps, once the “ink” is dry on the bill, to get that money out and how he “is making sure Americans see the most impact”. Buttigieg went into what that means exactly and gave people a sense of what to expect: “In practice, this means that new dollars are channeled through old lines, so to speak.”

He pointed to existing programs that already have a process in place, such as when a city wants to repair a street or an airport needs to improve. Buttigieg said many infrastructure improvement ideas are waiting in the pipeline due to a lack of funding.

“We have mechanisms for that,” he said, adding, “now we have a lot more to do.” In one example, the bill provides $ 17 billion for ports, with much of that money flowing through the Army Corps of Engineers.

[Read more: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on supply chains: ‘There will be disruptions’]

Hours ahead of President Biden’s scheduled signing of the bill on Monday, Buttigieg noted that the Department of Transportation is shutting down “dozen” new programs for the coming months and years.

The story goes on

He acknowledged that when the money is rolled out and the actual repairs happen, Americans will see disruption, but “remember that on the other side there will be the world-class infrastructure America needs and deserves.”

Ben Werschkul is a Washington, DC-based writer and producer for Yahoo Finance.

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