Secretary Pete Walks the Hernando de Soto Bridge

Earlier this month, Memphis’ Hernando de Soto Bridge shut down after a large crack was spotted on a critical beam on the bridge. The sudden closure has affected the over 10,000 people who rely on the bridge every day, including many of the truck drivers that work in one of the nation’s most important regions for shipping and logistics

This past Thursday, Secretary Pete took a trip down to Memphis to see first-hand the work being done to repair the bridge and speak to the importance of repairing critical infrastructure across the country. Here’s what he saw:

A Roundtable at FedEx

The Secretary started the day by hearing directly from Raj Subramanian, COO and President of FedEx; Donna England, VP of Safety at the Tennessee Trucking Association; Shannon Newton, President of the Arkansas Trucking Association, and Jason Higgenbotham, the owner of Ozark Motor Lines. Together, they discussed the impacts of the bridge’s closure on their businesses and drivers. He was joined by Senator Marsha Blackburn and Congressman Steve Cohen. Delivery drivers, especially, are affected by the closure of a bridge like the Hernando de Soto — and this has negative consequences for the region’s economy that is powered by shipping and logistics.

Touring the Bridge

Later on, Secretary Pete put on his hard hat and safety vest to tour the Hernando de Soto Bridge. Joined by Stephanie Pollack, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Representative Steve Cohen, Arkansas Department of Transportation board chair Roger Moore, Clay Bright, the TDOT commissioner, and Chris Frieberg of Kiewit, the contractor leading the repairs of the bridge, he got a first-hand look at the work being done to get the bridge operating safely again.

The tour served as an excellent reminder of the bridges across the country in need of urgent repair and the opportunities in construction that come with it.

Speaking to What He Saw

After the tour, Secretary Pete spoke directly with the press about his trip, the work being done, the collaboration between state and federal leaders, and the obligation our government has to ensure America has the best infrastructure in the world.

And if we want to be the leading — remain the leading country — in the world, we’ve got to make sure we have world-class infrastructure to match.

— Secretary Pete Buttigieg

The Secretary was also joined by:

  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis)
  • Mayor Jim Strickland, City of Memphis
  • Mayor Marco McClendon, City of West Memphis
  • Clay Bright, Transportation Commissioner, State of Tennessee
  • Robert S. Moore, Jr, ARDOT, Chairman


Americans deserve safe infrastructure, but that shouldn’t be the limit of our goals. We have a generational opportunity to create job by investing in transportation projects. From big cities like Memphis to smaller communities across the country, it’s time we create the infrastructure that will help us win the 21st Century.



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