Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao joined Senator Dean Heller and other officials in Carson City on Wednesday morning to announce a $7.5 million local grant. 

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the grant to the Carson City Public Works Department through the Department's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. Carson City received the grant despite stiff competition and limited money.

"It was $500 million," Chao said. "There were over 452 applicants and Carson City was one of 41 that won this tremendous grant."

The money will finish the South Carson Street Complete Streets project which will improve pedestrian safety in the area and enhance commercial and business access.

"That's really going to improve the quality of life and the transportation options in this beautiful city."

Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell also attended the event. He says the project will include wider landscaped sidewalks, flower planters and stone crosswalks.

Chao and Heller also toured ITS Logistics in Sparks, where the two met with employees of the warehousing and transportation company. Employees say the visit is important because they met people who are on the ground, dealing with transportation issues for commerce and safety every day.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we got to meet some really good people, really powerful people within the industry," A.J. Singh, Director of Fleet Capacity at ITS Logistics said.

Heller serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, so he deals with transportation issues in Washington. He says the secretary's visit is important because it could bring more federal funding to Nevada for infrastructure.

"Having this kind of relationship with this administration, with this Secretary of Transportation is going to mean a lot in the future in the state of Nevada," Heller, R-Nevada said.

Heller says that since Nevada's population and job growth are the highest in the country, it is important that the transportation evolves and adapts, especially for our growing trucking industry.

"Reno is now a hub for the west coast," Heller said. "They need to understand that and I think Secretary Chao does. She understands it better today and so it's just great to have her in town."

Heller's top transportation priority is completing Interstate 11 from Phoenix and Las Vegas.

"Those are the two largest cities in America without a freeway between them but I don't want to stop with I-11 just between Phoenix and Las Vegas," Heller said. "What I want to do is bring it up all the way to I-80. You talk about changing commerce for the Southwestern portion of the United States, that freeway would do it."

Heller says he is also hoping for an infrastructure bill that could include money that would solve the problems at the Spaghetti Bowl in Reno.