Weekly Update

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, as he was in town to check the progress on the I-40 bridge.

While he was here, I along with members of the community reminded him that Memphis is the world’s distribution center. More cargo moves through the Memphis International Airport than anywhere else on the globe. We’re the fourth-largest inland port in the country. Five Class I railroads run through our city, and prior to the recent fracture, over 40,000 cars and trucks used I-40 and roughly 60,000 crossed over I-55 every single day.

For years, our roads, bridges, sewers, ports, harbors, airports, and utilities have been the backbone of our economy. But, as we were recently harshly reminded by the fracture in the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, our infrastructure is aging and in dire need of updating.

With each passing year, our homes, businesses, industry, jobs, schools, and so much more have a critical dependence on modernized, high-quality infrastructure. As our cities continue to update and evolve, those needs for infrastructure will only continue to grow and change with them. When we think about those needs, it’s important to remember that infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges. The need for broadband infrastructure, smart electric grids, and intelligent transportation system (ITS) infrastructure, for example, are becoming just as necessary for cities to thrive—just as necessary as electricity 100 years ago.

In Memphis alone, we have identified nearly $20 Billion in current infrastructure needs – and the list grows each year. Some items on that list include: roadway and street improvements, bridge repairs and maintenance, stormwater/flood mitigation, updating solid waste facilities, sewer system upgrades, Memphis Area Transit Authority upgrades, broadband connectivity, upgrading to smart grids, and improvements at the Memphis International Airport.

For all the above reasons and many more not listed, I firmly believe the bipartisan passage of an infrastructure bill, such as the American Jobs Plan, has never been more important.

Whether conservative or liberal, we can all agree infrastructure in Tennessee, Memphis, in particular, has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The need for action is clear. This bill package will include much-needed funding in all the areas mentioned above, and I urge Congress to pass it.

Vaccine update: With each week that passes and with more people continuing to get vaccinated, our data points are heading in the right direction. The positivity rate over the last seven days is at 4.4 percent and the reproductive rate of the virus has slowed to .77 percent.

As you can see below, we’re at nearly 52 percent of our overall vaccination goal of 700,000.


We’re continuing to do all we can to reach out to our underserved zip codes by going to them and personally knocking on their doors (over 2,000 so far), and we’ll continue to do more.

But, we need your help. If you or someone you know hasn’t been vaccinated yet, please don’t wait. You can get yours today at any one of these locations.

The right to vote: On this day, June 4, 1919, the U.S. Senate concurred with the U.S. House and passed the 19th Amendment, which enshrined the right to vote for women in the U.S. Constitution. Tennessee became "The Perfect 36," the last state that could possibly ratify. All American women vote today thanks to Tennessee, and, particularly, the united pro-suffrage Shelby County legislative delegation.

For the past 4.5 years, the Memphis Suffrage Committee, led by my friend Paula Casey, has worked to place an "Equality Trailblazers" monument honoring those who led the way for women's suffrage and women's advancement in society. The monument will be placed on the river-side of the University of Memphis Law School. There will be 13 people honored on glass panels, and the artist is Alan LeQuire of Nashville who has done four other suffrage monuments across the state. Once complete, it will be another great addition to our downtown.

Stay tuned for more information on an unveiling ceremony in the near future.

I hope you have a great weekend.


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