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Guest on The Infra Blog: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Posted by Steve Anderson on Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development.  InfrastructureUSA recently spoke with him in New York City.

Excerpts from that conversation:

There’s no question, without a citizenry that is both informed and advocating, you won’t get a governmental response that meets the challenge.  And this is about the average citizen’s life.  There isn’t anything in transportation that doesn’t affect our lives: whether we drive in a car, the roadways and the tolls we pay, and whether we sit more time in traffic versus more time at home, being with our families; whether we ride a railcar to work; whether we take a ferry across the river; whether we have asthma, emphysema, and the air quality that we breathe; whether we find economic opportunity, a job, a good paying job.  All of these are interlinked with transportation.  And so there’s a clear, compelling case for the average citizen to understand not only how it affects them, but to be an advocate for the type of system they think they should have.

What happened is that we allowed those who in fact are the intricate players in transportation, we defaulted to them the responsibility, to figure out what we collectively need. And there’s no better plan, advocacy, and ultimately consensus that can be created by having groundswell citizenry. And where we failed is having the citizen understand that these transportation modes, the quality of that transportation, the economic opportunity that flows from it, is going to impact their lives, and therefore they need to be in charge, they need to be driving the engine, so to speak, and deciding what it is that we collectively need.


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