We will only achieve equity when everyone has access to what they need to thrive — starting with our most vulnerable people — no matter their race, socioeconomic status, identity, where they live, or how they move around. This was the driving tone and focus of the remarks from both Veronica Davis, Houston Transportation & Drainage Operations Director and America Walks Board Vice President, and Toks Omishakin, Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and America Walks Board Member, at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, Equity in Transportation Infrastructure: Connecting Communities, Removing Barriers, and Repairing Networks across America.
Here are some of the main takeaways we heard from both of them:
- A call to support the Reconnect Communities Act to address highways that divided communities and to invest first in those neighborhoods most deeply impacted by inequity.
- We can’t fix what we won’t face! Or fund – there was a strong critique on government spending habits: The U.S. is spending $50 billion per year building the same types of infrastructure that displaced and divided communities of color.
- In general, Transportation leaders at every level must embrace and act upon an ethos of “Build back better” for authentic progress in addressing our Nations’ ever persisting equity issues.
- If we do an analysis on any major city, race-based segregation is consistently at the root of inequities and is further compounded by decisions made by planners, engineers, and elected officials to put highways and wide roads through minority and low-income communities.
- Emphasis on the dire need for a collaborative working spirit and deeper community engagement in finding solutions that best support and represent trauma inflicted or purposefully ignored communities when it comes to transportation and mobility equity.
Read the full testimonies and view a recording of the session by clicking the links below:
- Click here to view the video recording of the hearing – Equity in Transportation Infrastructure: Connecting Communities, Removing Barriers, and Repairing Networks across America.
- Click here to read Veronica O. Davis’ full written testimony
- Click here to read Toks Omishakin’s full written testimony