PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says he’s open to tolling Interstate 80 but not inclined to see bridges tolled.
In an exclusive interview seen only on KDKA-TV, Buttigieg told KDKA money editor Jon Delano that it’s time for an infrastructure bill to deal with many transportation issues.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Reports Record Net Income For Fiscal Year
At age 39, he’s the youngest person in President Biden’s Cabinet, and he already has star power from his campaign for president.
Delano: “You know I am so tempted to call you Mayor Pete, Mr. Secretary. Do we call you . . ”
Buttigieg: “A lot of people still do around here, and that’s fine by me.”
Whether Mayor Pete or Mr. Secretary, Buttigieg is serious about America’s roads, bridges, public transit and airport infrastructure.
“This time of year in an area like Pittsburgh, or for that matter South Bend, Indiana, it’s pothole season, right, when we think a lot about our roads and bridges after what winter has done to them,” says Buttigieg.
“We know that roads and bridges are in a state of poor repair. We’ve got to fix it first and deliver a picture for a compelling future.”
WATCH: Full Interview With U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
As for tolling bridges as PennDOT proposes to finance repairs, Buttigieg says, “We can’t slap a toll on every mile of road or every bridge and expect that to work, so we got to have some big picture solutions, too.”READ MORE: As Families Report Delays In September Child Tax Credit Payment, IRS Says It's 'Looking Into' What Happened
That could be a new mileage tax based on the miles you drive your car.
As for tolling Interstate 80, Buttigieg says he’s open, but it’s a local decision.
“The stretch of I-80 that goes west will eventually bring you a mile and a half from my house in South Bend and in our part of Indiana, it is tolled. ”
“I’m not saying that is a right or wrong answer for Pennsylvania. We want these decisions to be driven as much as possible from the ground up rather than coming from Washington.”
WATCH: More With U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
No surprise, Buttigieg hails the president’s COVID relief bill, especially for help public transit.
“A lot of our transit agencies took a gut punch in terms of the ability to provide service. They’ve had to look at cutting routes or laying off employees because their revenue collapsed last year. ”
“This rescue plan has much-needed dollars to shore up those transit agencies.”MORE NEWS: FDA Backs Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Shots For People 65 Years And Older, High-Risk
Buttigieg says he’s looking forward to visiting Pittsburgh soon, noting he enjoys the local food, by which he means a certain sandwich known for its French fries between the bread.