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Source : Unsplash
September 22, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
The US DOT is not just concentrating on developing major American cities, but also more rural areas of the countryl. In a bid to make every corner of the country experience infrastructural improvement and upgrades, the US DOT Secretary recently visited South Dakota.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with local and tribal leaders to discuss federal investment in truck parking, Chamberlain airport improvements, tribal infrastructure upgrades, and highway safety measures. All these are being conducted under the Biden administration's IIJA funding.
The trip started with Buttigieg visiting the City of Chamberlain and meeting with the State representative Rebecca Reimer, City Administrator Clint Soulek, Mayor Monte Claussen, and other local leaders.
The rural airport at Chamberlain currently has a one-room waiting area and a single short runaway. A two-fold expansion is happening: expansion of the terminal and lengthening of the runway. The new terminal will be ADA-compliant.
The DOT provided $855,000 for the airport terminal project, while the FAA provided $731,902.
Tribal Infrastructural Improvement
Secretary Buttigieg also spoke with representatives from the Great Plains Tribal Association and the nine Sioux Tribes of South Dakota about specific infrastructure problems that tribal communities face. The Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes have received approximately $58 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation under the RAISE and Rural Discretionary Grant programs to repair and upgrade their necessary roadways.
Safety for Truckers
American truckers are the actual movers and shakers of the country, and the highways are the country's lifeblood.
Buttigieg joined the Federal Motor Carrier Administration administrator, Robin Hutcheson, for a meeting with truck drivers a mile away from the eastbound exit on I-90 for Salem, where 11 new parking spaces for trucks were added under Biden Administration investments. They spoke with Chris Spears, the president of the American Trucking Association (ATA), and Todd Spencer, the president of the Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), about numerous truck parking and safety concerns.
Buttigieg mentioned nearly a $61 million award from the USDOT's INFRA grant program, which assisted in funding the 11 extra parking spaces and road construction along I-90 adjacent to the rest stop. He disclosed additional grants totaling $80 million to assist motorists in accessing truck parking more easily, staying away from construction areas, and enhancing overall highway safety. The Biden-Harris Administration is the first to provide funding for initiatives involving truck parking.
According to a report by USDOT, 98% of drivers face difficulty finding safe parking regularly, and a staggering 70% of drivers are forced to violate Federal hours of service rules because of this scenario. In addition to this, truck drivers need to spend nearly 56 minutes of available drive time per day finding parking early rather than risking not finding safe parking down the road.
Chris Spear, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said, "The funding being announced today will help to elevate a shortage of truck driving spaces that too often puts drivers in a no-win situation. These projects being funded by the IIJA are an important step in the right direction, and we look forward to continuing to work with USDOT Secretary Buttigieg and FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson to solve this challenge together."