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Buttigieg highlights infrastructure progress, Highway 22 landslide in Cheyenne visit

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks next to U.S. 30 construction at a newly built underpass in Cheyenne. (Stew Dyer / Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Cheyenne on Monday to discuss the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or IIJA, and its impact on Wyoming. During his visit, Buttigieg addressed the recent Highway 22 landslide in Teton County and the $20 million road expansion project in Cheyenne.

Governor Mark Gordon and Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Darin Westby emphasized the importance of state and federal partnerships in securing funding for critical infrastructure projects. Gordon praised Buttigieg’s prompt response to the Highway 22 disaster.

“I have to tell you that when we had the Highway 22 disaster, Director Westby and I got on the phone. Within moments, I received a message from the Secretary saying, ‘What can we do to help?'” Gordon said. “Thank you very much for coming. It is always nice to have our friends from Washington visit Wyoming.”

Westby highlighted the road expansion project, noting its significance for safety and congestion relief.

“This project is a great partnership among us, the DOT, the Federal Highway Administration, WYDOT and the City of Cheyenne. $15 million of it came from the IIJA formula funds,” he said.

Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins praised the partnership with the federal government.

“Mr. Secretary, we’re so pleased your visit allows us to highlight some of the transportation projects we have built and some that are underway,” he said. Collins also emphasized Cheyenne’s growth and the challenges of connecting new neighborhoods to the city’s central business district.

Buttigieg, reflecting on his time as mayor, stressed the importance of local partnerships and funding.

“I love hearing all the different examples of partnerships you’ve been part of,” he said.

He also addressed the unique needs of rural communities and the significance of roadway safety.

The project’s origins date back to 2018 and 2019, with public input guiding the design process. Safety concerns have been a major factor, with multiple fatal car crashes occurring on US 30 in recent years. The first phase of the US 30 project focuses on constructing a new greenway underpass, widening roads and implementing new traffic signals and lighting upgrades.

Buttigieg reiterated the federal commitment to supporting Wyoming’s infrastructure needs, regardless of political affiliation.

“There’s no such thing as a Republican bridge or a Democratic pothole. Transportation is about getting people where they need to be, whether it’s our offices in Washington, D.C., or here in Wyoming,” Buttigieg said. “President Biden sent a very clear message that we are in charge of helping all Americans, serving every kind of community — red, blue, and purple. We take that to heart.”

He emphasized the goal of achieving zero fatalities on roadways and improving the overall transportation system — a goal that has been reached in a few communities. He expressed a desire to see one of America’s capital cities added to that list.

There were no new estimates or timelines for repairing Highway 22, which remains closed due to a landslide at milepost 12.8 and a mudslide at milepost 15 last week.

“We’ll be ready to support them as they refine those estimates,” Buttigieg said.

In closing, Buttigieg expressed his enthusiasm for future projects and the ongoing partnership with Wyoming.

“I hope you’ll invite me back as some of these projects are completed. Maybe one day I’ll get to ride a bike down that great multi-use path you’re constructing,” he said.