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Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg to visit Memphis for update on I-40 bridge, closure impact

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Three weeks after the I-40 bridge shut down for repairs, the United States Secretary of Transportation will be in Memphis to take a look.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg will be in the Mid-South Thursday.

In Washington, President Joe Biden and Congressional Republicans are in the midst of attempted bipartisan discussions to land a compromise on a major overhaul of the county’s infrastructure.

Buttigieg will visit the I-40 bridge to see the progress that’s been made. He’ll also attend sessions with FedEx to learn how the bridge closure has affected the nation’s distribution hub.

WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson said it’s information he can take back to Washington to use to land a deal to improve infrastructure in Memphis and beyond.

“He’s coming to Memphis because he’s concerned about Memphis, but also he’s concerned about an entire country,” Nelson said.

The impact the I-40 bridge closure has an impact on things from distribution to local traffic is seen almost daily. Wednesday, a police disturbance on the I-55 bridge shut down traffic on the detoured route across the river. One person was detained before traffic opened back up.

“Both Republican and Democrats in Congress and the president, whatever their differences are with the different aspects of infrastructure, they all want roads and bridges to be in good repair,” Nelson said.

Ahead of Buttigieg’s Memphis visit, Biden continued talks with Congressional Republicans Wednesday to come up with an infrastructure deal.

A main point of contention between parties is how it will all be paid for. Nelson said Democrats will likely push for a combination of increased corporate taxes and taxes paid by the wealthy.

Nelson said what Buttigieg learns and sees in Memphis will be a matter of interest for every member of Congress.

“So much of the truck travel comes through Memphis, Tennessee on its way to Texas or the other way toward Nashville and points out east,” Nelson said.

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