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Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg during a briefing at the White House on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Monday that his agency would use a portion of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to address racial inequities in U.S. highway design.

Why it matters: Buttigieg's remarks at a press briefing come amid a broader discussion of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the U.S. and days after Congress passed the long-awaited infrastructure bill.

  • The program, called "Reconnecting Communities," will focus on the "legacy of highway construction built through communities" and remove or repurpose infrastructure barriers.
  • Buttigieg reiterated that whether a highway will be removed will be decided on a case-by-case basis, adding that "it's going to vary by community and we have to listen to the community."

What they're saying: "[A]t least 40% of the clean investments in this bill will go to benefit the communities that are overburdened and underserved," Buttigieg said at the briefing.

  • "If an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach ... in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that ... obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices."
  • "I don't think we have anything to lose by confronting that simple reality and I think we have everything to gain by acknowledging it," he added.

Go deeper

Nov 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden signs infrastructure bill into law

Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law on Monday, capping off the hard-fought victory for his domestic agenda.

Why it matters: The legislation includes massive investments in roads, bridges, waterways and other “hard infrastructure.” It's the biggest public-works bill since former President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system in 1956.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.