U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (center in white shirt) tours the Tell City River Port in Tell City, Wednesday morning, April 13, 2022. Staff photo by Grace Pritchett
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (center in white shirt) tours the Tell City River Port in Tell City, Wednesday morning, April 13, 2022. Staff photo by Grace Pritchett
TELL CITY — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Perry County on Wednesday to talk about a $1.6 million grant that will cover construction of a new pier at Tell City River Port.

Buttigieg toured the Ohio River port near downtown Tell City, along with Indiana Department of Transportation Director Michael Smith, Tell City Mayor Chris Cail and other local officials. Afterward, he spoke to a packed room at Tell City Hall.

The project will pay for construction of a 40-foot-diameter pier for a crane that will be used for direct barge-to-truck unloading of pig iron when the river is high. An existing pier is unusable.

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The pig iron is a necessary raw material for Waupaca Foundry and other manufacturers near Tell City. The new pier will help increase port productivity up to 60%, helping maintain 1,000 jobs in a town of about 7,000 people, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"This would not be possible in our community without the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," Cail said. "It will continue to impact our community long after we are here."

The Port Infrastructure Development Program grant is an example of the kinds of programs and projects that will benefit from an influx of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, said Ben Halle, the DOT's deputy public affairs director.

"We know that communities rise or fall based on the quality of their infrastructure," Buttigieg said. "Infrastructure is, at the end of the day, the foundation on which we build our future. This port in this community has needed this investment for too long a time. Those benefits are going to ripple out into the community."

Buttigieg said getting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed was just the beginning. 

"This is a good law. I don't think you have to be a Democrat to appreciate that. It will invest in red and blue areas alike. The American people deserve it no matter what is going on on Capitol Hill," he said.

Buttigieg said the law includes investments that will make U.S. transportation infrastructure more resilient against extreme weather events, reduce carbon emissions and, by investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, build up the auto industry for manufacturing the next generation of vehicles.

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Indiana, which has over 1,111 bridges and more than 5,478 miles of highways in poor condition will see major investments throughout the state through the law.

Over the next five years, according to the DOT, Indiana can expect to receive:

  • • More than $6.9 billion for roads and bridges
  • • $673 million for public transportation
  • • $100 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • • $170 million to improve airport infrastructure, and
  • • $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.
  • Buttigieg is a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He was a candidate for president in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

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