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Transportation is a crucial to ensuring opportunity for all connecting us to jobs, schools, housing, healthcare, and grocery stores. Inadequate and unaccountable transportation investments have stifled opportunity for millions of Americans, leading to social and economic isolation and health disparities. These trends threaten the economic prosperity of our nation and disadvantage low-income people, communities of color, people in rural areas, and individuals with disabilities. The next surface transportation authorization is our opportunity to build a stronger, healthier, more inclusive nation. The transportation bill should work toward the following three priorities: y y y Improve access to affordable transportation options that promote mobility and health. Expand economic opportunity to strengthen families and communities. Promote accountability and focus on results.
Improve Access and Health
Millions of lower-income families, people with disabilities, and people of color live in communities where transportation options are unaffordable, unreliable, or nonexistent. A robust, accessible transportation system can foster personal independence, economic security, and improved health for many Americans particularly older adults, individuals with disabilities, people in rural areas, and the poor. Recommendations: y Preserve and expand programs that fund essential transportation options including public transportation, biking, and walking infrastructure including greater flexibility to use federal funds for operating assistance. y Coordinate existing funds used to support transportation options for people with disabilities, older adults, and people with limited incomes in a manner that provides greater flexibility to meet the diverse needs of rural areas and small urban centers. (These include the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities, Job Access and Reverse Commute, and New Freedom programs, as well as social service programs in other federal agencies).
Expand Economic Opportunity
Transportation provides access to good-paying jobs in both the construction and the operation of highways, public transportation systems, roads, and bridges. While one in 10 civilian jobs is in the transportation sector, women, low-income people, and communities of color lack equitable access to those careers. Recommendations: y Establish a construction careers demonstration program that would expand opportunity to middle-class careers in the construction sector by:
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Promoting work opportunities for local, low-income workers who live in the vicinity of transportation projects; Maximize the use of registered apprentices on transportation projects; and Dedicate transportation dollars for programs that help underrepresented groups gain access to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training programs.
Foster Accountability and Focus on Results
Our transportation decisions should be accountable to the needs of our most vulnerable populations older adults, low-income individuals and families, communities of color, and people with disabilities. Recommendations: y Establish a strategic planning process for states and regions to focus on the outcomes transportation investments should provide the community: o o Compare the benefits and consequences different strategies, investments choices, and development patterns have on community goals; Evaluate scenarios to determine the region's potential to meet broad goals, including how vulnerable populations are impacted by transportation, such as reducing household transportation costs, providing access to jobs, increasing walking and biking opportunities, improving air quality, and reducing injury risk to pedestrians and motorists; and Develop strategic plans through a consensus building process that considers alternative investment and growth scenarios with widespread public involvement.
Strengthen civil rights enforcement to ensure fair and non-discriminatory use of federal transportation funds, by: o Increase funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen enforcement of civil rights provisions this would enable timely investigation of discrimination complaints; o Maintain funding for the Transportation Equity Research Program, which funds research projects to understand the impact of transportation decisions on lowincome, minority, and transit-dependent populations. o Conduct an Equal Opportunity Assessment to identify impediments to compliance with non-discrimination and equal opportunity policies.
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