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Six State DOTs Sign the Equity In Infrastructure Pledge
Usually when we think about equity and infrastructure, we think about ensuring people historically excluded from infrastructure improvements benefit from new investments in infrastructure. We think about completed trails, protected bike lanes, or new bike access on bridges, and whose commute or travel will be made safer and more convenient by these improvements. However, there is another aspect of equity in infrastructure - who has more opportunities to build the infrastructure.
On October 11th I attended an event hosted by the Equity in Infrastructure Project (EIP) on its Pledge. By signing the Pledge, public agencies and entities agree that they will work to increase contracting opportunities and remove barriers for Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs) in infrastructure projects in order to build generational wealth and reduce the racial wealth gap. The Small Business Association has found the number and percentage of government contracts that go to minority and women-owned businesses is unacceptably small.
The EIP Initiative was created by longtime leaders in the transportation field who served on the Biden-Harris policy and transition teams and wanted a way to implement Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and his June 2021 executive order pledging to increase the share of federal contracts that go to small and disadvantaged businesses by 2026. Now that the pledge has been signed, EIP members are working with an advisory group to create a dashboard and performance measures that will track how well this effort is going.
The event was to celebrate six state Department of Transportation (DOT) executives taking the pledge (other signers include transit, water and airport agencies as well as some cities.) We appreciate these leaders taking the pledge with a willingness to be held accountable.
DOT executives who signed the pledge:
- California State Transportation Agency – Dr. Toks Omishakin, Secretary
- District Department of Transportation – Everett Lott, Director
- Illinois Department of Transportation – Omer Osman, Secretary
- Kansas Department of Transportation – Julie Lorenz, Secretary
- Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development – Dr. Shawn Wilson, Secretary
- Michigan Department of Transportation – Paul C. Ajegba, P.E., Director