Last week, I joined the National Resources Defense Council & Southern Environmental Law Center for a virtual roundtable on September 8 where I heard how our lack of transit justice is hurting people throughout the Fifth District. I heard ALL OF YOU loud and clear and I am your voice in Congress as we build a Fifth District that is safer, more just, and easier to get around.
I center my work in Congress on meeting the needs of our most marginalized communities, and I am committed to advancing transportation policy that maximizes transportation equity.
When the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee met this week, we advanced President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, with legislation that included two of my proposals to make transportation more equitable for everyone, no matter your ZIP Code or your bank account
- $10 billion to support access to affordable housing and enhance mobility for low-income individuals and residents of disadvantaged or persistent poverty communities
- $4 billion to reconnect communities divided by existing infrastructure barriers
Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District is a transportation hub with the country’s busiest airport, the eighth-largest mass transit system, and as y’all know too well… gridlock.
We are too car dependent, and it hurts us all. Whether it’s more greenhouse gas emissions or not being able to get around without our own car, it’s clear we need more investment in transit justice. During the roundtable, here’s what a few of my constituents shared about their commitment to transit justice.
Deborah Scott, CEO Georgia Stand-Up: “Historic inequities created by past discriminatory public infrastructure spending–including population displacement and destruction of Black property as well as exclusion from employment and business opportunities–must be addressed by the current infrastructure initiative. Transportation projects in particular have the potential to lift Black communities through integrating affordable housing into redevelopment planning as well as targeting job training, business contracting and other community benefits to those previously excluded from the wealth-building impacts of public infrastructure investments. Achieving equitable outcomes through large-scale, publicly financed economic development initiatives is one clear path to a more inclusive and just American society. Georgia Stand-Up will continue to advocate with allies and Congresswoman Nikema Williams and our Georgia representatives on this important issue.”
Suzanne Burnes, Just Growth Director Partnership for Southern Equity: “Partnership for Southern Equity is building networks that connect front-line organizations, communities, and municipalities in order to increase mobility and access throughout Metro Atlanta. It is crucial, now more than ever, that we provide equitable transportation, so that all communities are linked to the opportunities and amenities that make Atlanta great.”
Rebecca Serna, Executive Director Atlanta Bicycle Coalition: “Living without a car in Atlanta was challenging 20 years ago and it’s still the case today. If your bus comes every 45 minutes, it’s hard to be a reliable employee, student, or parent. That’s why at the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, our goal for transit is to make it work better for everyone, especially those who’ve been riding and funding transit for decades.”
Carden Wykoff, Disability Advocate: “Transit equity and accessibility is personal to me as I use a wheelchair and live a car free life in Midtown Atlanta; I believe in sharing my disability perspective to advocate for accessible bus stops, safe streets including sidewalks and overall rollability with several local orgs including Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and MARTA Army as well as serve on the MARTA Rider’s Advisory Council. My hope is that the 2021 Infrastructure Bill will aid in prioritizing not only the expansion, reliability, and speed of transit, but will focus on the required ADA fundamentals of existing and future build outs. Thank you, Congresswoman Williams, for listening to our perspectives and pushing for equitable transportation.”
Bakari Height, Co-Founder MARTA Army: “MARTA Army is supportive of advancing public transit within Metro Atlanta and welcomes elected officials like Congresswoman Nikema Williams to support and create bills that would do exactly that. We would love for bills to address transit inequity, frequency of vehicles, and ensuring that all Georgia residents have access to transit wherever they are.”
Brian Gist, Senior Attorney Southern Environmental Law Center: “We appreciate the opportunity to join this important conversation with Congresswoman Williams about transportation equity and climate. To address the climate crisis, we need to find ways to drive less, so safe and efficient transit service must be available for everyone. We need to shift the focus of federal policy from building roads to creating a complete transportation system of transit, bike paths and sidewalks that truly works for everyone.”
Bianca Oden, Senior Strategist NRDC: “Transit equity is key to efforts to provide better transportation options and to clean up the pollution that disproportionately affects poor and disadvantaged communities. We look forward to continuing to work with partner organizations like the National Campaign for Transit Justice and the Southern Environmental Law Center and also with lawmakers like Rep. Williams to ensure equity is front and center as Congress makes long-overdue investments in our transportation infrastructure.”
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