Scott Wolf, head of Grow Smart Rhode Island, met with President Barack Obama and the White House staff Nov. 1, part of a 150-member delegation from Transportation for America, a national alliance of advocates promoting targeted investments in road and bridge repair and enhanced public transit. Wolf also had a chance to hear from Vice President Joe Biden and meet with federal transportation officials to discuss funding for transportation and infrastructure investments.
PBN: Let’s start by discussing your recent visit to the White House and your meeting with President Obama. What did you accomplish?
WOLF: It was a great opportunity to hear directly from the president about his efforts to strengthen the economy and invest in needed infrastructure improvements. He was passionate and inspiring and also displayed a great sense of humor. I think he’s a real resilient guy dealing with huge challenges.
As far as what the trip accomplished, there are several things that were positive. One is that it enabled me to gain some additional insight into the White House strategy for securing additional funding for transportation and infrastructure investments. I had a chance to meet with some of the president’s staff people. … One of the things the president said that really struck me is that funding for infrastructure never used to be a partisan issue and used to have bipartisan support. …
What was also very helpful about this trip was that it enabled me to make good contacts with several people on the White House staff. which I think can be useful as we at Grow Smart seek to track and influence more federal legislation on issues like transportation, housing and urban revitalizations. Those are the issues we’re prioritizing in Rhode Island.
PBN: The General Assembly enacted parts of the legislation proposed by the 40-member Coalition for Transportation Choices, co-chaired by Grow Smart. Can you tell us about the parts enacted?