MARYLAND (WDVM) — Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen held a virtual roundtable with members of the NAACP Maryland State Conference to discuss infrastructure opportunities within President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
Members discussed creating sustainable infrastructure jobs as well as addressing outdated and inequitable infrastructure across the state, expanding access to broadband and quality housing, and investing in our schools and child care programs.
Senator Van Hollen spoke about ways to address the long history of inequity in infrastructure — like the outdated and inequitable infrastructure of Baltimore’s Highway to Nowhere — and to build opportunity and drive economic development in Maryland. Sen. Van Hollen called the unfinished highway “a mile and a half concrete scar” that divides neighborhoods in West Baltimore. He also highlighted that federal infrastructure dollars should not only be used to lay new highways but to repair damaged ones.
Sen. Van Hollen also explained infrastructure is far more than traditional roads and bridges but includes modern advancements and what some would call necessities like broadband access. He also stressed federal or large-scale projects should be focusing on hiring local workers from within the area rather than bringing in contracted, out-of-state workers thus creating good-paying infrastructure jobs.
“We want to come out of this with the proposals that, you know, meet the needs of the country and very much that meet the needs of communities that have been underserved and way too often left behind in so many of these areas,” said Sen. Van Hollen.