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Dr. Ibraheem Samirah for State Senate
Transportation is often overlooked because it doesn’t seem as exciting as other issues. But I know that for my constituents in Northern Virginia, transportation is a top concern that they have to deal with on a daily basis. The traffic problem in Northern Virginia continues to be unbearable for many, turning what should be quick trips into frustrating experiences. Alongside traffic concerns, the transportation sector is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions and climate change. It’s also an issue of equity: underinvested neighborhoods, often communities of color, continually lack the mobility they need to get to work or to get to other amenities they rely on.
The knee-jerk reaction to these problems is what we’ve seen for the past 70 years in America: more highways, wider roads, and more reliance on cars. I am here to tell Virginia the hard truth: a seamless, equitable, environmentally friendly transportation network is one that begins to move away from car dependency rather than exasperating it.
We need large-scale investments in public transit like trains and buses to better connect the metropolitan areas of Virginia. But outside of funding, there is much more we can do to strengthen our non-car transportation options. We need to reimagine our built environment with a focus on people and density in order to facilitate a variety of transportation options like trains and buses, but also bikes, scooters, and walking. A key to accomplishing that is providing more affordable housing options in the neighborhoods where people actually want to live and work. If we were to end exclusionary zoning, Virginians could find affordable homes closer to non-car transit options, which in turn would facilitate more efficient transit projects for the future. Communities that use density to reduce car dependency are proven to promote public health, economic mobility, and reduce carbon emissions.