RICHMOND — On Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made multiple stops around the Greater Richmond area to discuss topics impacting Virginia communities, including concerns over infrastructure and supply chain interruptions.
Sec. Buttigieg joined Gov. Ralph Northam, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Abigail Spanburger (D-Va.-7), Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.-4), Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, and others in a visit to Jackson Ward in Richmond; a historic neighborhood that has been impacted by infrastructure challenges. Along the brief tour, which started at Richmond’s Black History Museum and ended at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, Richmond Deputy Director of the Office of Equitable Development Maritza Pechin explained the challenges that the neighborhood has felt along with a sprinkling of the locality’s history. Sec. Buttigieg listened intently and asked questions to receive more context as to the struggles felt in this urban neighborhood.
Sec. Buttigieg’s second stop was to a construction site in Glen Allen, where a new roadway, neighborhood, and park are being developed. Sen. Kaine, Rep. McEachin, and Rep. Spanburger each spoke on their joint hope for a future in which green transportation alternatives such as a electric vehicles would replace current fuel-consuming modes of transportation, as well as the need for infrastructure improvements to Virginia’s roadways and bridges.
One of the focuses of Sec. Buttigieg’s speech was on issues faced by the business community regarding interruptions to the supply chain. While there were already issues with the supply chain system prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, that event created even more interruption to the ability for companies to produce, ship, and receive goods.
“Decades of underinvestment, plus unprecedented demand, plus the pandemic that we are facing right now have all conspired to create a perfect storm of pressure on our goods movement system in this country,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “Now, the supply chain is composed of private sector entities, and rightly so. Nobody wants a federal government-owned and operated grocery store or shipping company or warehouse system. But those private systems run on public infrastructure. That’s why we have a responsibility to make sure that we [the federal, state, and local governments] are doing our part to help.”
In recognition of the numerous small, locally-owned businesses in the Historic Triangle that have felt the impact on the current supply chain disruption, WYDaily asked Sec. Buttigieg how soon he predicts this to improve.
“Its [the impact on communities] one of the reasons why we feel such a sense of urgency with the short-term steps that we are taking [to remedy the issues with the supply chain],” said Sec. Buttigieg. “We’re going to invest $17 billion in America’s ports but that’s not something that gets you through Christmas season, right? And that’s why efforts like the Ports Task Force helping to have sweeper ships picking up empty, so that there’s more room for containers coming through, engaging the CEOs of the largest companies, the Wal-Marts and the Targets, not only to make sure that they’re getting their inventory on their shelves, but to make sure that they’re moving their cargo through for the benefit of others who need access to those same shared freight resources, but don’t have giant multi-national contracts and the market power that comes with them. I’m very concerned about the impact on small businesses in particular and, it’s with regard to supporting them in particular, that taking this perspective that it can’t wait.”
To watch the entirety of the remarks given in Glen Allen, please click the video below: