Reconnecting Communities Summit Slated for October

The first-ever Reconnecting Communities Summit – to be held in St. Paul, MN, October 12-14 – will seek to advance policies and investments in revitalizing communities of color experiencing residual negative impacts of federal highway system policy decisions over the last several decades.

[Above image by ReConnect Rondo]

“The Reconnecting Communities Summit is an opportunity to share, learn and plan collective efforts to overcome the negative impacts of the Federal Highway Act of 1956,” explained Keith Baker, executive director of the nonprofit group ReConnect Rondo, in a statement.

Kevin Baker. Photo by ReConnect Rondo.

ReConnect Rondo seeks to transform the neighborhoods, businesses, and cultural ties on either side of Interstate 94 in St. Paul, which divided the historic Rondo neighborhood during the post-World War II highway building boom.

Those efforts have included a proposal to build a deck over part of the interstate and restore some of the amenities razed during road construction – and it received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in March to do so.

[Editor’s note: Baker outlined those issues and others during the first episode of a four-part Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP podcast series focused on how to build an equitable transportation system.]

The AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence – operated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration – is working with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials to sponsor the Reconnecting Communities Summit.

ReConnect Rondo will host the event that will feature several opportunities for attendees, including presentations by national and local transportation industry leaders and workshops discussing vital issues such as project fund development, transportation equity and environmental impact.

“AASHTO is committed to improving quality of life by working toward a transportation system that serves the needs of every community safely, equitably, sustainably, and efficiently,” noted Joshua Rodriguez, director for the AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence.

“We are proud to support this one-of-a-kind gathering initiated by communities, for communities,” added April Rai, president and CEO of COMTO. “The first step in repairing harm done by past transportation policies is to ensure all voices are represented in the decision-making process as these projects take shape.”

Related articles