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Buttigieg talks road safety, infrastructure with tribal leaders on New Mexico visit

Bryce Dix

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Albuquerque Wednesday meeting with tribal leaders to discuss infrastructure investments and road safety.

Buttigieg met with New Mexico Department of Transportation Secretary Ricky Serna, tribal leaders, and students at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute to view traffic safety demonstrations. These ranged from which color clothing you should wear while cycling, to properly buckling a child’s car seat.

New Mexico is ranked the deadliest state in the nation to be a pedestrian or cyclist, according to a recent study. Nationally, American Indian pedestrian fatality rates are three times that of their white counterparts.

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law –– which allocates money to repair roads and bridges and even increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations across the country.

Bryce Dix
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg watches a demonstration on how to properly buckle a children's car seat.

With around 60% of tribal roads unpaved, Secretary Buttigieg said the goal is to make rural communities safer and more accessible.

"Tribal communities, tribal roads are woefully underfunded in this country," Buttigieg said. "We think we can make a big difference, but only if we are in strong partnership and dialogue.”

He said the federal government isn’t the only solution for these problems, though funding is a good place to start.

"There’s a lot of barriers to economic opportunity in rural and tribal communities," Buttigieg said. "A lot of that has to do with infrastructure and that’s why I’m so excited about the resources we can bring.” 

Buttigieg ended his visit to New Mexico by meeting privately with Hopi and Navajo leaders.

Copyright 2022 KUNM

Bryce Dix is our new local host for NPR's Morning Edition.
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