ICYMI: Secretary Buttigieg Visits South Dakota, Highlights Investments in Rural Aviation, Truck Parking, and Tribal Infrastructure Made Possible by President Biden’s Infrastructure Law

USDOT
5 min readSep 14, 2023

Washington, DC — This week Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited South Dakota where he joined local and Tribal leaders to highlight recent federal investments in rural aviation, truck parking, Tribal infrastructure, and highway safety made possible by the Biden Administration and President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Secretary Buttigieg began his visit in the City of Chamberlain, where he met City Administrator Clint Soulek, Mayor Monte Claussen, State Representative Rebecca Reimer, and other local leaders at Chamberlain Municipal Airport. There, the Secretary viewed construction progress on a new terminal funded by an $855,000 grant through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This project will replace the existing terminal, a modified mobile home, with a new permanent structure.

Greg Powell shares plans for the new Chamberlain Municipal Airport terminal with Secretary Buttigieg
Greg Powell, former City Engineer who the future terminal will be named after, shares plans for the new Chamberlain Municipal Airport terminal with Secretary Buttigieg
Mobile home that serves as Chamberlain Municipal Airport’s main aviation terminal.
The mobile home that currently serves as the airport’s main aviation terminal. This airport is crucial for the community as it allows for lifesaving Medivac operations, as well as activities that are crucial for the local economy like crop dusting and pheasant hunting

Secretary Buttigieg also met with leaders from the nine Sioux Tribes of South Dakota, along with leaders from the Great Plains Tribal Association, about the unique infrastructure challenges Tribal communities face. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded the Standing Rock, Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes over $58 million through the RAISE and Rural discretionary grant programs to make needed roadway repairs and improvements.

Secretary Buttigieg shakes hands with Sioux leaders
Secretary Buttigieg meets with Sioux leaders

Later in the afternoon in Sioux Falls, Secretary Buttigieg marked the anniversary of September 11, 2001, by meeting with first responders.

On Tuesday, Secretary Buttigieg joined Federal Motor Carrier Administration Administrator Robin Hutcheson in meeting with truck drivers at a rest stop off I-90 where 11 new truck parking spaces were added thanks to investment from the Biden Administration. The Secretary and Administrator also spoke with American Trucking Association (ATA) President Chris Spears, and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) President Todd Spencer, for a conversation about safety and truck parking concerns.

Secretary Buttigieg shakes hands with a truck driver.
Secretary Buttigieg meets Carmen Anderson. Anderson has been a truck driver for more than 30 years

The leaders and two drivers then joined Secretary Buttigieg and Administrator Hutcheson for a news conference where the Secretary highlighted how this Administration is investing in truck parking. The Secretary spoke about a $61 million grant through USDOT’s INFRA grant program that helped add the 11 new parking spots and fund road construction along I-90 near the rest stop. He also announced $80 million in new grants that will help drivers better access truck parking, avoid work zones, and generally improve highway safety. The Biden-Harris Administration is the first-ever Administration to fund truck parking projects.

Secretary gives remarks at a truck parking facility.
Secretary Buttigieg speaks at news conference about truck parking

Read below to see what they’re saying about the Secretary’s visit.

SELECT MEDIA COVERAGE

South Dakota Searchlight: Biden administration ‘making it happen’ on infrastructure, Buttigieg says in SD

“Chamberlain City Administrator Clint Soulek explained the need for his city’s airport project while leading Buttigieg on a tour. Soulek said medical transport planes are getting bigger, so a bigger terminal and longer runway is vital. ‘And then during hunting season, a lot of guys fly into here,’ Soulek said, referring to pheasant hunting, which is a major economic boon to Chamberlain and small towns across central and eastern South Dakota.”

KELOLAND Local News: Buttigieg visits Chamberlain Municipal Airport

“Buttigieg was in Chamberlain, he says, to drive home the point of what funding can do. ‘I’m trying to send the message that you don’t have to, a project doesn’t have to be in the billions and a population doesn’t have to be in the millions in order to matter,’ Buttigieg said.”

Mitchell Republic: Buttigieg: Rural needs, accessibility put Chamberlain airport at the top of federal funding list

“Without the infrastructure bill this project would not have happened for five to ten years,” Shawn McMahon, principal engineer at SEH said.

Dakota Broadcasting: US Secretary of Transportation pete Buttigieg visits South Dakota

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan: Biden Administration ‘Making It Happen’ On Infrastructure, Buttigieg Says in SD

Rapid City Journal/Indian Country Today: Buttigieg meets with SD tribes to discuss transportation issues

“‘A lot of tribal citizens don’t have access to a vehicle and that’s why Tribal Transit and safer road design are so important,’ Buttigieg said. ‘And then the broader issue of missing and murdered women is something that I also believe has links to transportation policy, because if we create better, safer ways for women to get to where they need to be, hopefully, fewer of them are likely to be victimized in that way.’”

Dakota News Now: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visits Chamberlain

“We know that a community this size can take those dollars, those resources and use it to really shift and benefit the trajectory of the airport or the community as a whole. And that’s part of why I am out here. I’m trying to send a message that a project doesn’t have to be in the billions and a population doesn’t have to be in the millions in order to matter,” said Buttigieg.

South Dakota Public Radio: U.S. Transportation Secretary visits South Dakota outlining federal DOT grants

“‘Women, in particular, who are already underrepresented in the industry, who deserve our support, and who I believe are a big part of the solution of how we call more people into the next generation of drivers,’ said Buttigieg. Buttigieg also announced an additional $80 million dollars in grants to improve highway safety and to continue improving truck parking across the nation.”

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