Sec. Pete Buttigieg talks about major investment in Nebraska rail infrastructure

10/11′s Madison Pitsch interviews U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg talks about the importance of investing in hyperlocal rail systems like the one in Grand Island.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 3:08 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Millions of dollars will be put into a rail facility in Central Nebraska due to a federal grant.

On the heels of that announcement in Grand Island Monday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg came to Lincoln Tuesday to talk more about the $15.2 million Cornhusker Railroad Regional Connectivity Project and what’s being done to make railroads safer.

The investment in Nebraska is one of 70 projects in 35 states covered by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Sec. Buttigieg said the investment will improve track related issues, upgrade crossings and repair the Cathcart Rail facility in Grand Island. It will also add jobs.

“Right off the bat, we see 12 jobs being added that are related to the repair facility, dozens more that are connected to companies that are more likely to operate there,” Sec. Buttigieg said.

With one of the biggest railyards in the world located in Nebraska, the state has experienced rail problems - from multiple derailments to a recent explosion in North Platte.

“We’re making these physical investments so that the condition of the railroads are safer but we’re also insisting that congress does its part and put in provisions like stronger tank cars so that they could withstand a problem if something happens, and stiffer fines so that we can hold those railroads accountable,” he said.

Buttigieg said a systemic lack of investment in infrastructure has led to much of these issues. He has personal experience with it from his time as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

“What I saw was that local communities like mine were often asked to do much more than we could manage without some kind of federal support,” he said. “So I think local communities have done the best that they can...but what we know is for the last 40 years or so, the federal government hasn’t done enough. Now we’re changing that by partnering with local governments, partnering with counties, partnering with states to deliver these improvements, whether it’s a new bridge, a railroad fix or upgrade to an airport terminal.”

Buttigieg said they’re hoping the Biden administration’s investments on rail will create a better system day by day.

“A better rail system is one where derailments are rare instead of daily, where fatalities are zero. And I really think that’s a goal we should strive to achieve...that’s the norm for commercial aviation. Why can’t we have that for railroading too.”

Watch 10/11 Madison Pitsch’s full interview with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in the video player above.