ICYMI—Following His Letter to the White House, Hagerty Applauds DOT for Sending Personnel to Memphis to Help with the I-40 Bridge Situation

May 20, 2021

WASHINGTON – United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today thanked Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for sending Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) personnel to Memphis to help with the I-40 bridge situation and for his cooperation in working to repair and reopen the major thoroughfare for people across the Mid-South.

Deployment of the FHWA team comes after Hagerty sent a letter to President Joe Biden encouraging the Administration to understand the urgency of the situation and to become more involved as needed.

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Partial Transcript Below:

Hagerty: “I’d like to turn to my home state if I could, Tennessee. We have some of the best roads and bridges in America in Tennessee. We’re also one of the more fiscally well-managed states, in fact, we’re one of the few states that actually finance our transportation projects without using debt financing. We pay as we go on this.

But, and Secretary Buttigieg you’re very well aware of this, our Interstate 40 bridge that connects Tennessee and Arkansas across the Mississippi River, nine days ago, it was discovered it has a severe fracture in the structural frame—the support beam, for that bridge. I’ve been in touch with state and local officials, with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, with barge operators in the private sector. My team has been working with the Coast Guard who have jurisdiction over the Mississippi River. And again, the Mississippi is middle America’s super-highway for transportation and commerce. On Saturday, I sent a letter to President Biden about the crisis. And I want to thank you, because as a result of that letter, I saw this morning that the Federal Highway Administration is sending a team to Memphis—posthaste. I applaud you for making this a top priority, Secretary Buttigieg. The crisis has delayed fuel supplies, it’s delayed agricultural products, many critical commodities that reach markets through the Mississippi river. It’s also created tremendous delays in traffic. This is affecting rural people, their livelihoods, their ability to get to where they need to go. It’s impacting commerce on so many levels. So I want to thank you for the effort that you put in, the responsiveness to my letter, and for our conversation, Secretary Buttigieg, to prioritize this for your department. And I look forward to continuing to work with your department to make sure that the situation in Memphis and Arkansas is resolved as quickly as possible.

I hope that the Administration and my Democrat colleagues are serious about working in a bipartisan way to solve our infrastructure problems. The I-40 bridge that we’re talking about here isn’t the only problem and this bridge shouldn’t require legislation or time-consuming debate about whether government nanny care is infrastructure or not. Longer-term, investment in real infrastructure – our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, waterways, ports, rail, broadband, our power grid, and pipes –  is needed.

But to pay for it by raising taxes on American workers and job creators, just as we’re poised to emerge from a pandemic-driven recession, is the opposite of what we need. We should be incentivizing hundreds of billions of dollars in private capital to get off the sidelines. We need to be reducing bureaucratic paperwork, ridiculous regulatory costs, and unnecessary delays, and we’ve got ensure that anything we do reaches all the way to the most rural areas of our country, like in my home state of Tennessee.