CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg returned to Cedar Rapids today to check in on the progress made at the Eastern Iowa Airport. The program, years in the making, is coming to its eventual end thanks to new funding from the federal government after the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“This has been a years-long, four-phase project, to upgrade the passenger facilities and the freight facilities that the potential of this region really calls for,” said Secretary Buttigieg.
Secretary Buttigieg was joined by airport, local and state leaders who all spoke about the added opportunities that will come from this expansion in a city that the Wright Brothers once called home.
“These rich ties remind us of this community’s call to welcome opportunities that make the American dream accessible to all,” said Mayor Tiffany O'Donnell.
Secretary Buttigieg also spoke about people returning to the Midwest. “We’re seeing people coming home for a lot more than that. We’re seeing people choose and move to these locations in the Midwest that are seeing their potential realized as never before.”
One thing that all leaders mentioned was the bipartisanship that made this possible. Democrat State Auditor Rob Sand even gave special thanks to Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. “Because he was working with the Democratic president. Obviously, there are pressures to go against that. Again, he’s the only member of Iowa’s federal delegation that was Republican to vote for that. Good for Chuck Grassley. Good for Iowa. Thank you to him especially,” said Sand.
The overall $121 million upgrade to the airport is expected to be completed sometime in 2025.
Secretary Buttigieg also commented on why projects like the airport's were funded while others like the Tower Terrace Road project was not. "Sometimes when they succeed it's on the second, third or fourth or even more outing as they continue chiseling the project, as things develop. So, if first you don't succeed, try again and I just want to be transparent about how competitive these programs are now."
Iowa's News Now Anchor Nick Weig asked the Secretary about the looming government default and its potential impacts. "Extremely concerned and that's why a default needs to be prevented. Both leaders, both parties are saying that the default might be off the table. That's been the president's message from day one."