MGP, DOT Secretary Buttigieg tour Cascadia Tech Academy, meet with local union members


District 3 U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited the Interstate 5 Bridge, toured Cascadia Tech Academy and met with members of Southwest Washington labor unions to highlight local infrastructure investments and the skilled trades workforce of the present and future, last week.

Gluesenkamp Perez began Monday, Feb. 12, by bringing Buttigieg to see the Interstate 5 Bridge firsthand, which has been rated functionally obsolete by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and is in urgent need of replacement to improve safety, support interstate trade and fight frequent congestion, according to a news release by Gluesenkamp Perez’s office.

In December, Gluesenkamp Perez helped secure a $600 million Department of Transportation grant for the project, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. She expressed the need to leverage federal funding to replace the bridge and reaffirmed her support for upcoming DOT grant opportunities, the release added.

Following the bridge visit, Gluesenkamp Perez and Buttigieg visited Cascadia Tech Academy, a career and technical education (CTE) institution created in partnership with 10 Southwest Washington school districts.

They toured the school’s pre-engineering and construction programs, spoke with students and instructors about their work and ongoing projects, and held a question-and-answer session with students.

During the tour, Gluesenkamp Perez and Buttigieg discussed the importance of supporting CTE programs to help build up the next generation of the trades, which will work on projects like the I-5 Bridge replacement project, the release stated.

MGP has been supportive of fully funding federal Perkins grants in fiscal year 2024 for state and local CTE programs. She also introduced bipartisan legislation to build awareness for CTE pathways and support workforce training for forestry-related careers.

Gluesenkamp Perez and Buttigieg wrapped up the day at Laborers Local 335 visiting with apprentices and members of the union, in addition to Ironworkers Local 29, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701.

They answered questions about recent progress on the I-5 bridge replacement and how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is creating jobs and rebuilding critical infrastructure across Southwest Washington. They also discussed the need to improve access to high-quality, flexible and affordable childcare for families in the trades, which Gluesenkamp Perez and her husband personally experienced when operating their auto repair and machine shop in Portland.

She introduced the bipartisan Supporting Small Business and Career and Technical Education Act to require the U.S. Small Business Administration to assist small-business owners in hiring CTE grads and support CTE grads in starting their own small businesses.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is enabling meaningful investments in local infrastructure that support good jobs and underpin the American ethos that we can build things with pride that last. Building the next generation of infrastructure isn’t possible without building up the next generation of tradespeople – which is why we need to support the hard-working folks making these projects happen and the technical education pathways that make these meaningful careers attainable,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in the release. “I appreciate Secretary Buttigieg coming back out to Southwest Washington so I could show him the I-5 bridge firsthand and meet with talented local union members and students who will be working on the infrastructure projects of today and tomorrow.”