On April 4, Reconnect Rochester presented Be Prepared to Stop to their community in hopes of prompting wider discussions about infrastructure issues and projects. In spite of bad weather, about 100 people came to see the film and stayed for the panel discussion that followed. We were delighted to learn that they taped the discussion and you can watch it below.
Moderated by WXXI Public Broadcasting’s Vice President for Television and News, Elissa Orlando, it was a great conversation that was simultaneously local and universal. Fixing and maintaining structures already in place while planning for a variety of possible future needs – all with limited funding – is the challenge facing every community in the country. And getting the public to care about and be willing to fund these projects is an equally universal problem.
“We struggle to get input on our 25+-year plan,” said James Stack, Executive Director for Genesee Transportation Council. “The moment that a project now goes in front of somebody’s house, now they’re interested, now they’re engaged. But sometimes it’s not even until construction starts. It’s very difficult to get people to prioritize that until it’s on their front step.”
“We don’t do a good job of selling our product, “ added Richard Perrin, AICE, Director of Planning for T.Y. Lin. “Our product gets kids to schools, seniors to doctor appointments, people to jobs. We just don’t do a good job of selling it. We’re losing to other public priorities.”
Questions from the audience ranged from the gas tax to intelligent planning to public-private partnerships. Although Reconnect Rochester tends to focus more on alternate forms of transportation such as biking, walking, and public transit, it’s obvious that they are looking for solutions that serve every aspect of better, safer transportation infrastructure. We were pleased to hear that audience members could relate to the film’s focus on trucking issues and how that industry’s concerns impact local community planning.
As Enid Cardinal, Senior Sustainability Advisor for the Rochester Institute of Technology said, “The Communities and the economy are supposed to serve the people. Sometimes infrastructure’s not sexy, but it’s really important and it’s for the greater good. We just need really strong people to do the right thing.”
Watch the discussion and let us know what your community is focused on as our transportation needs and options rapidly evolve. (Please note that the first few moments were cut off.)
If you’d like to show Be Prepared to Stop in your community, just drop us a line at info@BePreparedToStop.org. We’d love to hear from you!
Moderator: Elissa Orlando
Panelists (L to R): Jim Hofmann, Jr., P.E., James Stack, Richard Perrin, AICP, and Enid Cardinal