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Secretary Buttigieg remarks on RAISE grants and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in Manchester, New Hampshire

Monday, December 13, 2021

Thank you, Senator Hassan, for your work passing this legislation—including, importantly, the rail dimensions, which are historic. I’m so glad to be here with Representatives Kuster and Pappas. Mayor Donchess, great to see you; Mayor Craig, love being here in a great river city.  

People still call me Mayor Pete—and I take that as a compliment, because mayors continue to be on the absolute front lines of delivering for their people. And we want to be the right kind of partner for those local problem solvers.  

Thanks to the leadership of the people you see behind me, and so many others across the country, we were able to see the President sign into law, last month, that historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. And I’m so excited to be here in Manchester to discuss what President Biden’s vision for Building a Better America looks like.  

This law represents a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure and in jobs. Together with the President’s Build Back Better Act, it will create millions of good-paying jobs and make a tremendous difference in people’s lives here in Manchester and around the country.  

It was a little over two centuries ago that a small, rural community called Derryfield was renamed Manchester. Named after one of the first great industrialized cities in the world, in the hopes that it might grow and follow a similar path. And that same year marked the founding of the first Amoskeag textile mill, from which the Millyard area takes its name.  

Today, of course, we know that Manchester has grown in so many ways—has moved forward in so many ways from its early textile days. The Millyard as we know it today has become home to innovative tech firms, to restaurants, to small businesses, and of course to UNH Manchester.  

But jobs and opportunities are only meaningful if people have access to them; if people can get to them quickly, readily, safely, and affordably. And that’s one of the reasons we were so pleased to award the City of Manchester this $25 million RAISE grant to support connecting the South Millyard to its surrounding neighborhoods.  

I can tell you: this was a very, very competitive round of funding. We had about a billion dollars to work with, and about $10 billion of applications coming in. So the ones that got over the line were those that really demonstrated how they were going to make everyday life better in their communities.  

This funding is going to help create new roadways, new bicycle and pedestrian paths, and make it easier for people to get around no matter how they travel. It’s going to make it easier and safer to walk and bike—and reduce traffic and congestion for those who drive.  

These are investments that don’t just benefit people in Manchester today; they position the city for a future of continued investment and jobs. Which is why we look forward to seeing how Manchester will continue to grow through a combination of great transportation and great land use policy and planning.  

This RAISE grant is one of the largest we’re awarding this year in our Department. But it’s just one of the ways we’re investing in jobs and infrastructure in New Hampshire.  

Right now, this state alone has over 200 bridges and nearly 700 miles of highway in need of repair. Driving on roads in poor condition creates what I call the “invisible pothole tax”: It costs the average New Hampshire driver more than $400 a year, just in the impact on vehicles. Commutes are getting longer, and those who rely on public transit are spending more than twice as much of their time commuting as those who drive. 

That’s why the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—supported by the folks you see at my side—is providing New Hampshire $1.4 billion to improve roads and bridges; $126 million to improve public transportation, including making it more accessible for seniors and people with disabilities; and $15 million that will go to making roads safer, so that fewer of our loved ones lose their lives in preventable crashes.  

It increases the amount of funding available to Department of Transportation grant programs, like the RAISE program that is bringing this new development and support to Manchester.  

And it makes the largest investment in clean drinking water in U.S. history, including dedicated funding to address PFAS contamination—a provision that I know was supported by everybody here, and I know was championed by Senator Hassan, and is going to be so important for our future generations.  

It’s also the largest investment in passenger rail service since the Amtrak was set up in the first place. We just had a terrific conversation with elected leaders, with labor and business leaders, and community leaders, about a potential plan to expand rail service from Boston up to Manchester. I’m grateful for everyone who was part of that conversation. And I’ll tell you: whether it’s a new rail proposal or the next grant project that comes along, infrastructure will be so important to the future of this community and this region.  

I was especially pleased to see how much local energy there is for these discussions. Because while the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides tremendous opportunity for federal investment, we know that successful projects require local leadership, local planning, and local support. And with that local buy-in, we have an opportunity to create a transformative future here in New England.  

That’s what we’re talking about today. That’s what we’re investing in right now. And this is what Building a Better America looks like. We’re excited about the new generation of union jobs that will be created—most of which require a lot of skill, but do not require a college degree, because this is a blue collar blueprint for rebuilding our country and our economy.  

So again, I want to thank everybody here for their support, and for the work ahead actually implementing this law and making it a success, which I can tell you my colleagues at the Department of Transportation are enthusiastic about doing.  

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