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Transcript: Secretary Buttigieg Remarks in Doraville, GA

Friday, August 6, 2021

Thank you Mayor, and thank you everybody for joining today. 

I'm delighted to be back in Georgia, and in particular, want to recognize the mayor's focus on ensuring that roads work for everybody. Yes, for cars, but not only for cars. We need to make sure that all of our pieces of transportation infrastructure—cars, transit, roadways, buses, and the rest of it—are revolving around human beings, instead of human beings always having to revolve around the speed of a vehicle. I see that vision reflected here. 

I'm very pleased to be here with Representative McBath: somebody I have admired for a long time; somebody who encouraged me—I think from our very first conversation—and to pay attention to this part of this metro area and all of the needs and the opportunities that are here.  

I want to recognize Jeff Parker and the folks in MARTA who are with us, as well as the Center for Pan-Asian Community Services (CPACS), which I had a little bit of exposure to during my last visit to Georgia. You'll hear more from them in a moment, but they're doing such remarkable work here. 

This is a great place to discuss two of the most important things to the Department of Transportation—safety and equity—both of which are at stake in work like what CPACS and the mayor are seeking to do—with support in Washington from Representative McBath, and a very sympathetic eye from my department. 

It's worth noting that today marks the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. And yet around the country, we are seeing a lot of attacks on the right to vote. I'm also mindful that we are in the state that Dr. King called home. That John Lewis called home. Where so many others—my friend Stacey Abrams and many more—today are here working on voting rights.  

We also know that civil rights and equity are inseparable from questions of transportation.  

That's why the work of an organization like CPAC is so important. You help people from communities that have been overlooked or underserved get around—with buses like the one that we see here today—so they can go about their lives: buying groceries, worshiping, staying connected with friends and families, and of course, being able to get to work. Which is why this is also a conversation about jobs and the economy.  

We were encouraged to see the good jobs report that came out today reflecting the economic growth that has happened during the Biden-Harris Administration. But we know that we've got a long way to go. And we know that a good economy is not just one where the top line numbers are looking good, but where everybody is thriving. 

This is also why the Representative’s support for affordable transit and creating new greenway paths for people to walk and bike is important.  

The truth is that people of color and lower income Americans are more likely to suffer health impacts from transportation pollution, more likely to depend on public transit, and unfortunately, more likely to lose their lives in a traffic crash. The Beaufort Highway that is so close to where we're standing today, reflects many of these challenges and inequities.  

The community immediately surrounding us is one of the most diverse in the United States. Yet many of the people who live here don't have access to a car. And in the last few years, dozens of pedestrians have been injured or killed in traffic crashes.  

There is already terrific work now happening at the local level to make sure that everyone has better access to clean, safe, affordable, equitable transportation options. But the reality is the federal government has not been doing enough to help. 

That's why we believe this is the moment for a generational investment in our infrastructure, including investments in reconnecting communities, including investments in public transit, pedestrian safety, and more. With support from leaders like Representative McBath, we see, even as we speak, a historic bipartisan infrastructure deal taking shape.  

One that promises to create millions of good paying jobs in this country. 

One that represents the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history—which is worth noting because of the FTA support for the safety work going on here—not to mention support for an important agency like MARTA and ways to make sure that we are encouraging the work that CPACS does.  

As well as the work on roads and bridges, lead pipes, affordable internet and so many other things. 

Here in Georgia alone, this bill would represent nearly $1.5 billion of support for public transportation. And of course, so many of those jobs that we believe we can create with this legislation will be created right here in this community.  

So, it's an exciting time to be in transportation, and this is an especially fitting place for us to talk about what's at stake. And with that, I want to turn it over to a leader and a friend—somebody who I'm so glad has encouraged me to come here and see for myself, the work that is going on—Representative Lucy McBath.