U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to New Mexico this week and announced grants for 37 projects across 19 states including several infrastructure modernization projects across the state, such as upgrading natural gas pipelines to prevent methane leaks and road maintenance.
Buttigieg visited Deming Wednesday as part of the “Investing in America” Tour and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss rural infrastructure and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that became law in November 2021.
The federal, bipartisan legislation included a program that awards $1 billion over five years to prevent gas leaks in both rural and urban communities, Buttigieg said.
“There’s a savings that comes from more efficient and more modern infrastructure,” Buttigieg said. “Infrastructure has been here for decades, sometimes built with technologies or materials that didn’t withstand the kind of pressures that you can with newer sorts of pipelines that are being built. All of that is also part of our fight against costs and prices, so many things going up across the country.”
Buttigieg added that the benefits include cost, safety and climate benefits from the pipeline upgrades.
Wednesday was the first time a U.S. transportation secretary has visited Deming and Buttigieg, speaking during the press conference in front of the Florida Mountains, expressed his feelings about Deming from a transportation perspective.
Deming is “one of the few places you can see a train from end to end under that big sky,” Buttigieg said. “There’s an aircraft from the floodplain we saw coming into your Deming Airport to those airliners taking people from the West Coast to the East Coast, leaving their contrails in the sky to those county roads in the rural roads and the interstates that are so important to the economy in this area. It is a very, very fitting place to talk about what it means to invest in America.”
The bipartisan infrastructure package is an infrastructure law that seeks to make safety investments in communities across the country.
So far, $2.6 billion in funding was awarded to New Mexico for work on 217 projects including roads, bridges, public transportation, airports, clean water and broadband expansion, according to a White House fact sheet on the infrastructure law in New Mexico.
Buttigieg was joined by other dignitaries in Deming. The visit included Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nanette Barragán, 2nd Congressional District Rep. Gabe Vazquez and U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján. Local leaders from Deming including Republican state Rep. Jenifer Jones, Deming Mayor Benny Jasso and other local leaders.
Earlier in the week, Buttigieg visited Albuquerque to discuss wildlife corridors and other transportation projects.