Community leaders and transportation advocates from across Saint Paul joined elected representatives and policy officials Saturday, October 25, to begin plotting the path to a healthier, more equitable transportation system for all.
“Saint Paul Healthy Transportation for All: Building Grassroots Capacity” was a historic event for Minnesota’s capitol city. Never before has such a broad coalition of community leaders, organizations and policy officials come together to begin addressing issues around transportation from a ground-up perspective in Saint Paul.
“We are at a transportation crossroads,” Minnesota Department of Health Commission Dr. Ed Ehlinger told a crowd at the event. Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle and Mayor Chris Coleman also presented.
With the aim of empowering communities and individuals to get involved in transportation planning in Saint Paul, attendees of the event participated in active and engaging discussion throughout the day. They discussed challenging questions about how new transportation projects are conceived, developed, funded and implemented, and how that process could be improved to increase involvement and improve equity. A series of breakout sessions throughout the day covered topics including:
- Racial Equity and Transit
- Q & A with a panel of transportation officials
- Stepping up Accessibility, Walkability and Safety: What to do “Where the Sidewalk Ends”
- The Capital Improvement Budget (CIB)—Demystifying Saint Paul’s Transportation Funding Process
- Media/communications resources and strategies
- And much more
At the heart of every successful city is a transportation system that connects people to jobs, amenities, services and each other. The city of Saint Paul seems to understand the importance of having an effective transportation system that provides options to citizens.
Whether traveling by bus, train, bicycle or skateboard, having a transportation system that makes it not only possible, but convenient to get around town sans personal vehicle is essential to creating a vibrant and affluent city. It also leads to a healthier population and a healthier environment.
“Improved transportation can help address disparities in health, economic vitality and access to opportunity if the community processes that inform decisions about funding are inclusive and represent the interests of every community in Saint Paul,” says Lauren Fulner, transportation and sustainability coordinator for the Hamline Midway Coalition and event coordinator.
Saint Paul seems to understand this. The city is continuing to invest in important transportation infrastructure improvements. The new Green Line LRT, the citywide Saint Paul Bicycle Plan, Bus Rapid Transit routes, streetcars and more are all part of the long range transportation plan that will continue to transform the city in the coming years.
As planning for a modern transportation system progresses at break-neck speeds in Saint Paul, however, it is more important than ever that communities and individuals are involved in the planning process
The Saint Paul Healthy Transportation for All convening was a momentous first step, and efforts are already underway to carry that energy into a new era of transportation planning that is inclusive, equitable and successful.
“Saint Paul Healthy Transportation for All: Building Grassroots Capacity” was funded by grants from McKnight Foundation and the Saint Paul Foundation.
Special thanks is also due to the sponsors that made it possible: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Allina Health, Saint Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry, Saint Paul City Councilmembers Russ Stark and Chris Tolbert, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs – University of Minnesota, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Transit for Livable Communities, HealthPartners, and Nice Ride MN.
The event was produced in partnership with Saint Paul District Councils, St. Paul Smart Trips, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Active Living Ramsey Communities, District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.