Secretary Pete Heads Down to Georgia
Last month, Secretary Pete touched down in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Getting America Back on Track tour. During his visit to the transportation hub, the Secretary recapped the successes of the American Rescue Plan and its role in funding transportation systems through the pandemic. He also addressed how the American Jobs Plan will revitalize Atlanta’s metropolitan area through its investments in jobs and modern infrastructure.
New Plane Train Tunnel
Secretary Pete started the day at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), one of the busiest airports with a rich history of foster opportunities for local Black-owned businesses. Starting his visit to the city deep underground, the Secretary descended 50 feet below the airport to see the Atlanta Plane Train Tunnel extension project in progress. This tunnel will improve and allow more the airport to move more passengers more swiftly through Atlanta’s massive airport.
As they walked, Secretary Pete, along with Airport General Manager Balram Bheadari and Deputy GM for Infrastructure Frank Rucker, talked with construction officials about the $6 billion project.
After finishing the tour, the Secretary went above ground to meet with minority-owned business leaders. These leaders have been a crucial part of airport projects and play an essential role in fostering economic opportunities for minority-owned businesses in Atlanta. Joined by Senator Jon Ossoff, Representative Nikema Williams and Balram Bheadari, Airport General Manager, the Secretary discussed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and how the American Jobs Plan would benefit airports nationwide, as well as how to ensure the benefits of federal dollars can help all businesses and increase equity.
Hopping Aboard the MARTA
From Hartsfield-Jackson, the Secretary rode the MARTA train to his next stop with Senator Jon Ossoff, Representative Nikema Williams, MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker. While aboard they discussed the importance of investing in transit. After a quick ride, they arrived at the East Point MARTA station where they were welcomed by East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham.
A Tour of East Point
Mayor Ingraham took the group on a walking tour of the thriving majority minority suburb of Atlanta. Senator Raphael Warnock joined and the group discussed several topics along the way, including the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative which aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to underserved communities.
The Secretary stopped at a site that would create a new mixed-use transit-oriented development within an easy walk from the MARTA station.
Afterward, the Secretary made his way to the East Point City Hall complex, where fielded a few questions from reporters. He explained how the American Jobs Plan will expand and modernize transit and contribute to good, well-paying jobs in Georgia, as the relief of a rising sun at the top of City Hall underscored the Secretary’s optimism.
“It’s not just patching up or restoring or improving what we’ve had all along, it’s also a vision for the future”
— Secretary Pete
Roundtable at the Atlanta Beltline
After seeing the city on foot, the Secretary met with local officials for a roundtable discussion at the Atlanta BeltLine Headquarters. The attendees discussed transportation equity and funding for transit and workforce development programs in the home of the community-oriented Beltline project, which in many ways represents the American Jobs Plan’s vision for Atlanta. Its green spaces, multi-use trails, and streetcar and light-rail lines captured the plan’s emphasis on addressing climate change and reconnecting neighborhoods that have been historically divided by infrastructure policies.
Speaking on Equity
After the roundtable, Secretary Buttigieg held a press conference joined by the officials that had traveled with him throughout the day, to share how the American Jobs Plan would create millions of good-paying jobs, and provide much needed funding to modernize and expand transit, reconnect communities and increase environmental justice. Local leaders reiterated the need for the ambitious projects and programs of the American Jobs Plan for Atlanta and the nation.
In addition to the Secretary, the roundtable included:
- Senator Warnock
- Senator Ossoff
- Representative Nikema Williams
- Representative Lucy McBath
- Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux
- Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
- Amanda Rhein, Executive Director, Atlanta Land Trust
- John Orr, Transportation Manager, Atlanta Regional Commission
- Mike Alexander, Director for the Center for Livable Communities, Atlanta Regional Commission
- Odetta Macleish-White, Director, Center for Community Progress
- Jeffrey A. Parker, MARTA CEO
- Dr. Eloisa Klementich, CEO, INVEST Atlanta
- Frank Lee, Transportation Programs Director, Center for Pan-Asian Community Services (CPACS)
Greeting USDOT Employees at the Airport
Before heading back to D.C., the Secretary met local USDOT staff members at the airport. Here, he thanked his fellow employees for their tireless service in ensuring the safety and prosperity of their fellow Americans.
Georgians know that investments in equitable infrastructure equal investments in good-paying jobs. As the President continues to push for the American Jobs Plan, we’re excited to hear from communities across the country about how we can invest in their success.