Brooklyn activists call for infrastructure spending to improve air quality, transit system


BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The air in North Brooklyn and other parts of the city has problems, including health risks caused by infrastructure and a transit system that advocates say doesn’t ensure the health and safety of residents.

Asenhat Gomez of El Puente, a community human rights organization, said the well-being of residents has decreased as a result of the air quality and environment.

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“This community has been challenged with really bad transportation infrastructure that impacts the air quality and impacts the health of the community members,” Gomez said.

The advocates that gathered in Williamsburg Monday said roads here have been prioritized over public transportation. The same is true, they said, with car access over the people’s access.

The blame is put on inequitable transportation funding.

Decades-old legislation has put 80% of funding towards highways and the remaining 20% to transit.

Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign Renae Reynolds said infrastructure built under Robert Moses, the area’s “master builder” in the early-to-mid- 20th century, bifurcated neighborhoods to make way for roadways.  

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“The South Bronx is a clear indicator of the ways that neighborhoods were completely demolished in order to increase access to further suburban areas,” Reynolds said.

They’re asking for billions of dollars in federal funding to transform transit here in New York City.

Danna Dennis, a community organizer with Riders Alliance, said they want $20 billion into the upcoming budget for operating funds. They also want $3 billion annually to keep their efforts going.

Additionally, they’re calling on Congress to pass H.R.3744 – the Stronger Communities Through Better Transit Act.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a $547 billion-dollar transportation package earlier this month. H.R.3744 would be an amendment that will be introduced to Congress on Wednesday.

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