CSI Statement on the Obama Administration’s Grow America Act

April 30, 2013
Contact:  Dennis Chin; 212-248-2785 x1450 or 609-954-2111; dchin@thecsi.org

Statement by Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) About Obama Administration’s Grow America Act

New York, NY - This week, the Obama Administration sent Congress the Grow America Act, a four-year, $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization. This proposal is a step in the right direction to create more opportunities for communities, including communities of color, across urban and rural America.

Strong, vibrant and multi-modal transportation systems drive economies. Transportation systems get people where they need to go – to work, health care, school and places to buy healthy food.  Investments in these systems are absolutely necessary in our 21st century economy.

We need these investments now. Investments in transportation infrastructure will keep all of us safe when we commute to work or travel on our nation’s roads, bridges and highways.  Additionally, investments in public transit systems will help reduce carbon emissions and contribute to a healthier environment for us all.

Strategic and equitable transportation investments also have the potential to shift conditions for communities of color.  Such investments require transparent and accountable planning; dedicated revenue sources for infrastructure investment; capital infusion in under-resourced communities; and strategic workforce development to connect communities of color to living-wage transportation jobs.

“Local transportation systems are underwater from massive revenue shortfalls.  Now is not the time to cut more from these cash-strapped budgets.  Now is the time to invest and grow our economy.  This is particularly important for communities of color who tend to be the most disconnected from public transit while also the most likely to rely on it to get to opportunities like jobs,” says Simran Noor, Coordinator of Advocacy at the Center for Social Inclusion.

CSI Equity Caucus colleagues, PolicyLink and The League of American Bicyclists, outlined several aspects of the legislation that are particularly promising:

  • The Bill establishes a pilot project in which up to 10 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) conduct an assessment of transportation connectivity with a focus on disadvantaged communities. These MPOs would then set and meet targets to better connect these populations.
  • The Bill strengthens language to enhance public participation during the development and implementation of transportation plans.
  • The Bill calls for an increase in public transit funding by 70% over the existing transportation law (MAP-21), which could provide affordable travel options for many communities who rely on public transit.
  • The Bill states a new focus for the U.S. Department of Transportation to connect historically disadvantaged communities to jobs, schools and other daily needs. This would help struggling households for whom transportation has been a barrier to opportunity.
  • The Bill opens up pathways to employment in transportation for historically underrepresented workers, specifically communities of color, to potentially bring new jobs to those who have yet to reap the benefits of transportation investments.

Read the rest of the overview here.

About the Center for Social Inclusion:
The Center for Social Inclusion works to unite public policy research and grassroots advocacy to transform structural inequity and exclusion into structural fairness and inclusion. CSI works with community groups and national organizations to develop policy ideas, foster effective leadership, and develop communications tools for an opportunity-rich world in which we all will thrive. Visit www.centerforsocialinclusion.org.


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