Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Delivers Remarks at Groundbreaking for Salem Parkway Multi-Use Trail Project – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined Governor Roy Cooper and Mayor Allen Joines for the groundbreaking for the Salem Parkway Multi-Use Trail project in Winston-Salem. This project, funded in part by $1.6 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will link the city’s downtown to more neighborhoods, increasing safety, accessibility, and improving interconnectivity for everyday life. 

The full transcript of Secretary Buttigieg’s remarks is below: 

Good morning, Winston-Salem. What a treat it is to be with you. I’ll find out later whether it was the state or if it was the city that was responsible for arranging the weather, but I’ll just give you both credit for it at the moment. 

Mayor, thanks so much for welcoming us to your city. It’s true, as the governor and others said: I still have the heart of a mayor everywhere I go. And I was just reflecting there's few better experiences in life than walking into a ballpark on a sunny day in a city that you happen to be the mayor of. 

And there's few more rewarding experiences than delivering on improvements and quality of place and quality of life for your community in a place that you call home. I know that Mayor Joines has served this community through many seasons of ups and downs, and I know that the job of mayor has only become more demanding and difficult since I proudly wore that title a few years ago. So, thank you for your leading. 

I will note, though, that it would have been nice back when I was mayor if there were a President delivering a trillion-dollar infrastructure package to benefit cities and towns across the country—so hopefully you feel a little wind at your back in that regard. 

I want to thank all of the local and state leaders who the mayor acknowledged and all of the community members who joined us today who helped create the momentum for a project like this.  

And I want to recognize some who can't be here but who we work with closely: members of the House from North Carolina and U.S. senators—including Senator Tillis who notably crossed party lines and was among Republicans who sat down with Democrats, with President Biden, with me and others, because there's nothing Republican or Democrat—at least there shouldn't be—about building good roads and bridges and taking care of our ports and airports and more. 

And I want to thank Chairman Fox for today’s tour of the construction sites, and for your leadership, your volunteer leadership of the NCDOT. You’re doing such terrific work under the leadership of Governor Cooper. 

The Governor and I have been on a bit of a road show these last couple days. We started our day yesterday groundbreaking the beginning of that Raleigh-to-Richmond line, which we celebrated the funding for just a few months ago—an extraordinary pace, already being able to turn some dirt on that project. 

Later, we sat down with workers who were benefiting from these good-paying jobs, and then still later in the day, saw what the elimination of a railroad crossing and the introduction of a new and better road design by the state fairgrounds is going to mean. 

And now we are here in Winston-Salem celebrating another project that we know is going to make an enormous difference in the everyday life of so many people around here.  

One of the reasons why I feel that I have the best job in the federal government, is that privilege of being able to see how those federal dollars are making a difference closer to home, across what is now 57,000 projects of all sizes.  

From a billion-dollar railroad grant to help make Raleigh-to-Richmond into a reality, to the million-and-a-half dollars that’s going into phase one of a project like this with several million dollars ahead for phase two. 

What every single of those projects, 57,000 and counting, has in common is that not a single one of them was invented or cooked up somewhere in the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C.  

Every one of those projects was developed by the community or was developed by a state DOT. 

And so many of those projects, we’ve also been told about, have been in the works for more than a decade, like this one, or several decades, like some of the others that we noted the other day.  

And you might ask, “If people have been working on this for so long, why didn’t it happen?” But the answer is that Washington wasn’t doing its part. The projects were being developed. The visions were taking shape. The communities were putting their hopes and their plans together. But the funding wasn’t there. 

We know that the great ideas aren’t going to come from Washington, but more of the funding should. And today it is. That’s what we’re celebrating. 

So that’s why, on behalf of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and this entire administration, we’re so proud to join you to help break ground on this new Salem Parkway multi-use path.  

We know the benefits it’s going to bring for safety, for people who walk and bike, connecting so many people between downtown here, soon all the way to the hospital that’s the biggest employer in the county. 

We see what it will mean to have that safe and comfortable and welcoming way to walk or bike around the community. Benefiting people’s health, benefiting quality of life, the time you get to spend with your kids, with your friends.  

And because of the safety element of that, I would add that these kinds of improvements are not ornamental, they are fundamental to our agenda to move toward a vision of zero roadway and traffic deaths in this country.

This is important work. 

So, I want to congratulate you not only on the strength of community you have shown, but on joining that community of places around the United States that is stepping up, taking its future into its own hands, and doing so in partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration. 

This is part of a larger effort, that we are just one part of over in the DOT. To just pay attention to how politics and government affects everyday life and make the most of those tools that are placed in the hands of policymakers. 

I fear, especially in our moment, that too many in Washington feel maybe too many steps removed from what’s going on on the ground in a place like Winston-Salem. And too many community members wonder whether anything going on in those big white buildings in Washington, D.C. actually matters in a way that’s beneficial here on the ground. 

And that’s been our focus. That’s been President Biden’s focus, just like it’s Governor Cooper’s focus, to make sure that education is the way it needs to be. To make sure that health care is affordable. At the federal level, that’s meant the drive for $35 a month insulin, the fight to get inflation back below three percent, all of the steps that we’ve taken on getting rid of price gouging and junk fees.  

But unquestionably a big part of that is investments like this one. 

And we couldn’t be more fortunate to have the partnerships that we do with the community, with the mayor, with a visionary governor like Roy Cooper under the leadership of Joe Biden. 

Last thing I just want to mention is part of why it’s gratifying for a former mayor to be here is that any mayor knows that the best moments are when projects become reality.  

After years of seeing the numbers on a page and the designs on a chart, after going through PowerPoint presentation after PowerPoint presentation, your hands start to feel itchy to actually get those hands on a shovel and turn some dirt. 

And that’s how we feel nationally, too.  

We spent our first year fighting to get this infrastructure package done. And then our second year creating all the programs that it launched. And then our third year figuring out how to start routing these dollars. But if year one was the bill passing, and year two was the programs launching, and year three was the money moving—this year, 2024, is about the dirt flying. 

And with that, no more ado, we’re going to go ahead and get that dirt flying.  

So, with the governor, local leaders, this red fellow—who I can only assume is the Vice Chair of the Department of Transportation—we're going to celebrate the great future in Winson-Salem and the great precedent of getting big things done together. 

Thanks so much for the chance to be here and join.