SMART TD hosted a round-table in January 2022 at the University of Kansas Medical Center campus with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, local elected officials, labor leaders and community members to spotlight how the bipartisan infrastructure law will create local jobs and spur economic growth across Kansas’ Third Congressional District, including in communities that are frequently overlooked.

The group was later joined by Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz, Kansas City Mayor Tyrone Garner, Rep. Sharice Davids and Secretary Buttigieg at the Rock Island and Cesar Chavez Bridges for an event highlighting the bridges’ complementary purposes as infrastructure and economic projects in the Kansas Third. Among the attendees were local labor and business community leaders, elected officials and transportation authorities.

“The bipartisan infrastructure law is innovative legislation that will bring thousands of jobs to the state of Kansas.”

– SMART TD Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo

“The bipartisan infrastructure law is innovative legislation that will bring thousands of jobs to the state of Kansas,” said SMART TD Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo. “My organization is uniquely qualified to reap its benefits because we are the men and women that physically transport the products created by our great unions and building trades. We are moving from the great resignation to the great innovation. From SMART members building new HVAC systems for our nation’s schools and hospitals, to SMART TD members transporting the much-needed resources to build and innovate this country: We get it done! Representative Davids was there when this much-needed legislation was drafted, and she voted to pass it into law. I am proud of both her and Secretary Buttigieg’s work to high-light the new law’s benefits.”

“It’s no accident when federal agencies call on our state directors to be at the table when these events happen,” added Dragoo. “Our legislative team is second to none in D.C. Director [Greg] Hynes and Alternate Director [Jared] Cassity are making great connections and advancing our cause in Congress. It’s proof when we get these calls: SMART is a key stakeholder in D.C. and throughout the country.”

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in Kansas City. Photo by Christopher Smith for the USDOT.

Local 759 (Paramus, N.J.) President and Legislative Representative Rafael Becerra met with Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Tom Carper and Gov. John Carney on Friday, March 4, in Wilmington, Del., as part of an event promoting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), formerly known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Pictured, from left, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Local 759 (Paramus, N.J.) President/Legislative Representative Rafael Becerra, Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Delaware Gov. John Carney pose for a photo during an event at the DART First State facility in Wilmington, Del., on Friday, March 4.

Brother Becerra, a veteran bus operator for Community Coach based out of New Jersey, frequently travels the main thoroughfares between the states and has been a SMART-TD member since November 1984.

“It was a great honor in meeting Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, Gov. Carney and Sen. Carper,” Becerra said. “The infrastructure law will accomplish a big transformation in our nation — not just the conditions of our roads and bridges — but in how people get around via bus and transit.”

Becerra has been a bus driver for nearly four decades and helped to evacuate people in conjunction with the Jan. 7, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and to transport soldiers to defend the area for President Biden’s inauguration. His experience was chronicled in the March/April 2021 SMART-TD News on Page 7.

“All of our bus members here in New Jersey and from coast to coast take extreme pride in doing their job safely day after day,” said New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol, who also attended the event. “For decades, President Becerra has served as a dependable bus operator, and he’s helping the membership in two roles as an elected officer. I’m very proud of his work and his leadership.”

Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo (Local 1503, Marysville, Kan.) accepted an invitation from the federal Department of Transportation to introduce DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids at a Jan. 28 event discussing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in Kansas City.

“It’s no accident when federal agencies call on our state directors to be at the table when these events happen,” said Dragoo, who has been Kansas SLD since January 2010. “Our legislative team is second to none in D.C. National Legislative Director Greg Hynes and Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity are making great connections and advancing our cause.

“It’s proof when we get these calls. SMART-TD is a key stakeholder in D.C. and throughout the country.”

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas’s third district speaks at an event promoting the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Jan. 28 with DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and SMART-TD Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo to her right.

Accompanied by Kansas Assistant State Legislative Director Chad Henton (Local 506, Herington, Kan.) and Kansas SLB Secretary & Treasurer Dan Bonawitz (Local 1409, Kansas City, Kan.), Secretary Buttigieg, Rep. Davids and SLD Dragoo took part in a roundtable discussion at the University of Kansas Medical Center campus with local elected officials, labor leaders and community members.

“The bipartisan infrastructure law is innovative legislation that will bring thousands of jobs to the state of Kansas,” Dragoo said in his introduction of DOT Secretary Buttigieg and Rep. Davids. “My organization is uniquely qualified to reap its benefits because we are the men and women that physically transport the products created by our great unions and building trades. We are moving from the Great Resignation to the Great Innovation. From SMART members building new HVAC systems for our nation’s schools and hospitals to SMART members transporting the much-needed resources to build and innovate this country. We get it done!

“Representative Davids was there when this much-needed legislation was drafted, and she voted to pass it into law. I am proud of both her and Secretary Buttigieg’s work to highlight the new law’s benefits.”

The event also spotlighted how, when implemented, the IIJA will create local jobs and spur economic growth across the third district of Kansas that Davids represents, including in communities that are traditionally overlooked, Dragoo said.

Buttigieg described the funds coming to invest in the nation’s infrastructure as being of historic levels and said that good-paying union jobs would be created in the state of Kansas and nationwide because of the bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.

“We are preparing to deploy historic levels of funding to help modernize transportation across the country thanks to this law,” he said. “This law is going to do so much in every part of the United States, and certainly here. It’s going to help us build more electric buses, to help kids get to school without being exposed to toxic fumes. It’s going to help us expand public transit to make commutes faster and traffic lighter.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, right, meets with Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo and his family at an event Jan. 28 in Kansas City, Kan.
A portion of the day’s events took place during an outdoor press conference at the Rock Island and Cesar Chavez bridges, and Secretary Buttigieg, Rep. Davids and the SMART-TD contingent were joined by Kansas DOT Secretary Julie Lorenz and Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Tyrone Garner. The event highlighted the bridges for their complementary purposes as infrastructure and economic projects in Davids’ district:

Among the attendees were local labor and business community leaders, elected officials and transportation authorities. Dragoo’s family — Jessica, Kennedy, Quinn, Savannah and Jax — also attended some of the day’s activities.

“This was an amazing opportunity and one that our members in Kansas can be proud of,” Dragoo said.

 
New Jersey State Legislative Director Ron Sabol met with federal Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Westfield, N.J., an encounter that was later featured in a video produced by the DOT and then shared on Buttigieg’s official Twitter account in conjunction with Labor Day on Sept. 6.
Sabol, of Local 1447 (Newark, N.J.), met Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Aug. 9 and discussed his career as a freight rail conductor, remote-control operator and as a SMART-TD union officer.
“I got involved in my union right away, and that’s because of safety,” Sabol told Buttigieg. “Railroading is the most dangerous job in the country.”
A member of the SMART-TD National Safety Team, N.J. SLD since December 2016, and also his local’s president, Sabol reminded the Transportation Secretary of something that sometimes is lost among the public.
“Our railroads and bus operators, which we represent as well, they’re first responders,” he said.
Sabol recalled the efforts made by TD members to help evacuate people in tunnels during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.
“They’re heroes.”
Sabol also said that the passage of infrastructure legislation will improve with an expansion of service, better accessibility to riders and improved safety for a number of TD members.
“The best part of my job is being able to help people,” Sabol said. “As you the mayor were able to help all those people, I do it at a different level with a different group of people.”
Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will be increasingly important as regulatory efforts develop to make the Rule of 2 — a certified conductor and certified engineer — enforced on freight trains throughout the United States.
The Biden administration announced earlier in the year that FRA is revisiting the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding freight train crew size and would be prioritized at some point in the autumn.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the recommendation of $2.5 billion to advance the construction or completion of 25 rail, bus rapid transit (BRT) and streetcar projects in 12 states, as well as other projects that may become ready for funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. These projects, competitively funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, will create hundreds of construction- and operations-related jobs and help communities expand transportation options that improve access and mobility for residents.
“Across the country, communities are seeking to expand public transit as a way to create economic opportunity, improve safety, advance equity, reduce congestion and pollution, and lower the cost of living for their residents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These capital projects will improve life in 25 communities and are the start of what we hope will be a once-in-a-generation investment to modernize and expand public transit across the country.”
FTA’s FY 2022 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations includes $1.56 billion for 17 CIG projects with existing grant agreements, and $461.1 million for eight new CIG projects estimated to be ready for grants in FY 2022. An additional $427.2 million is recommended for other CIG and Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) Pilot Program projects that may become ready for funding during FY 2022.
“FTA is proud to work with communities across the country to bring more environmentally friendly public transportation options to residents,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “These investments support President Biden’s commitment to combat climate change while also improving safety, racial equity and quality of life for thousands of Americans whose lives will be touched by these projects.”
This announcement is consistent with President Joe Biden’s FY 2022 budget, which includes first-time funding recommendations for eight transit projects in five states. These include:

  • In Phoenix, Arizona, the Northwest Extension Phase II project would extend Valley Metro’s light rail system 1.5 miles from the existing end-of-line station in northwest Phoenix to the Metrocenter Mall, improving access to the region’s light rail system for residents in various communities in north and west Phoenix, Glendale and Peoria, and support transit-oriented land-use planning in the corridor, including the planned redevelopment of the Metrocenter Mall site.
  • In Minnesota, two BRT projects are recommended for funding: 1) The METRO Gold Line BRT project in St. Paul would better connect transit riders traveling along a 10.3-mile corridor on I-94 between downtown St. Paul and the suburban cities of Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury and, more broadly, connect the eastern part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area to the regional transit network via Union Depot in downtown St. Paul; and 2) The Rochester Rapid Transit BRT project in Rochester would bring BRT service to a 2.6-mile corridor that includes Downtown Rochester, Mayo Clinic campuses, commuter lots and residential neighborhoods.
  • In Austin, Texas, two BRT projects are recommended for funding: 1) The Expo Center BRT project would bring BRT service to residents along a 12-mile corridor, connecting East Austin to the University of Texas, downtown Austin and other major employment areas; and 2) The Pleasant Valley BRT project would bring BRT service to a 14-mile corridor connecting residents of the Mueller neighborhood in northeast Austin to the Goodnight Ranch neighborhood in southeast Austin, and other major employment areas such as Dell Children’s Medical Center and Austin Community College (ACC) Eastview.
  • In Washington state, two BRT projects are recommended for funding: 1) The RapidRide I Line BRT project in South King County would bring BRT service to suburban communities along a 17-mile corridor between the cities of Renton, Kent and Auburn; and 2) The Pacific Avenue/State Route 7 BRT project in Pierce County would bring BRT service to communities along a 14.3-mile corridor between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway, connecting residents to key destinations such as the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts/Pantages Center, the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, and the University of Washington Tacoma Campus.
  • In MadisonWisconsin, the Madison East-West BRT project would provide fast, reliable bus service for residents in a key 15.5-mile corridor running along East Washington Avenue, around the State Capitol building, through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, and continuing west on University Avenue to the West Transfer Point or West Towne Mall.

The CIG Program is the federal government’s primary grant program for supporting transit capital projects that are locally planned, implemented and operated. It provides funding for investments such as new and expanded heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, bus rapid transit and ferries, as well as corridor-based BRT investments that emulate the features of rail. The program includes funding for three categories of eligible projects, as defined by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity.
FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2022 CIG Program, including links to individual project profiles, is available on FTA’s website.