Buttigieg highlights Missoula airport upgrades funded by bipartisan infrastructure law - TAI News
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Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on President Biden’s 2025 budget for the Department of Transportation, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Montana on May 6 to tour projects that are being funded by grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including upgrades at the Missoula Montana Airport. 

The airport is building a new concourse that will add four more gates, create a new baggage claim area, and expand the rental car center, according to the Missoulian. The project is funded by a $41 million grant allocated under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed in 2021. 

“All together we’ve given out over $2.4 billion to modernize transportation across Montana,” Buttigieg said at the event, according to the Missoulian. “It’s a level of financial support from the federal government that we haven’t seen in my lifetime, and it’s sorely needed. The decades-long mismatch between the change and growth in communities over time, on one hand, and the lack of federal infrastructure investment, on the other hand, is something that was felt all across the country.” 

Brian Ellestad, director of the Missoula airport, praised the infrastructure law and said that without the funding the law provided, the airport would not be making the new upgrades.

“This would not be possible without the help of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Ellestad said, according to the Missoula Current. “These infrastructure improvements are helping the airport expand and meet the demands of the community, and offer greater, more affordable air travel options and increase connectivity.” 

Aside from upgrades to the airport, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is also helping to fund a wildlife crossing on U.S. 93 to make the road safer for both vehicles and wildlife. The highway is rated one of the top 10 deadliest in the country, and has a fatality rate three times the Montana average, according to Missoula television station KPAX.

Buttigied held a roundtable with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation, where the wildlife crossing is being built, to discuss the project’s progress and what its impact will be on the region. 

“We’re proud to team up, with the Tribe and these communities, to bring the resources that are going to help save lives and make everyday life a little bit easier,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg praised Montana Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester for working to pass the infrastructure law that is funding these projects in the state. Tester voted for the law, while Republican Sen. Steve Daines voted against it. 

“Sen. Jon Tester wasn’t just somebody who advocated very provocatively for this project and other projects in the region, but he’s one of the reasons we have the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the first place,” Buttigieg said.

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