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South Bend experience guides Secretary Pete Buttigieg in D.C.

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 1:58 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lessons learned in South Bend will drive the country’s transportation future. Gray Television Washington Bureau Reporter Kyle Midura connected with U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg in one of the secretaries first interviews since taking the job.

Sec. Buttigieg is making big promises to the country but wouldn’t guarantee any special treatment for his hometown. A lightly edited transcript of their conversation about South Bend follows below:

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Kyle Midura - Washington Bureau Reporter:

As mayor you pursued the ‘Smart Streets’ strategy, what lessons did you learn based on that effort -- or any others -- that you can apply to this new role?

Sec. Pete Buttigieg - U.S. DOT:

The whole idea of ‘Smart Streets’ was that if we imagine our streets and infrastructure in the right way, that would unlock economic vibrancy and opportunity. We’ve seen that payoff.

You look, for example at the way small business responded on Western Avenue, it showed how private investment will often respond to public decisions to improve a streetscape. And, I think that very specific neighborhood level example from South Bend really has lessons for what we should do nationally with policy: use resources In the right way to unlock the potential.

KM: What if any promises can you make to Indiana for federal investment in ongoing or new transportation projects. I’m thinking of say the South Shore rail double tracking, downtown rail station, anything you can commit to at this point?

Sec. Buttigieg:

Everything we do will be a fair look for the entire country and that includes Indiana. I’m really excited because I know what it means to the area where I come from, I know what it means for the entire country, to see the kinds of moves that the president has talked about in his infrastructure vision. And, to really deliver that.

That holds huge potential for communities like South Bend and every part of the United States.

Kyle: Anyone you plan on bringing in who you leaned on during your time as mayor?

I learned so much from partners, friends, and colleagues in South Bend, some of whom are serving South Bend to this day. I think that that relationship is only going to become more important in the years to come we try to take lessons learned and apply them across-the-board.

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