Chairman Jim Oberstar's leadership and legacy has been lauded by many in the wake of the recent elections. He truly is a tremendous public servant and has positively impacted the lives and "livability" of all Americans — especially our nation's school children through the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
During Chairman Oberstar's 35 years as a member of Congress, he has shaped the nation's surface transportation policies to support and encourage walking and bicycling as important alternatives to motorized transportation. As a champion of the federal SRTS program, Chairman Oberstar built bipartisan support to secure its inclusion in the 2005 Federal transportation bill named Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which included $612 million over five years for SRTS programs in the 50 States and the District of Columbia. And the Chairman has worked with Republican U.S. Congressman John Mica, next year's presumptive committee chairman, over the past year on the highway reauthorization process. Although Chairman Oberstar will not return to office for another term, his passion and concern for making transportation options available for all Americans will continue to be heard.
As the director of the clearinghouse for the federal SRTS program, I have witnessed first-hand the dedication and passion Chairman Oberstar has for "improving the health and well-being of an entire generation of school children." He was not only vital in starting the federal SRTS program but also in building support across the country to see the program grow. Today, federal SRTS funding has supported projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in more than 10,000 schools. Communities are building infrastructure and support to make it safer and more fun for American families to take active trips to school.
Safe Routes to School professionals, coordinators and other supporters around the country thank Chairman Oberstar for his unwavering support and encouragement. His goal was to change the habits of a generation, and the encouraging news for us all is the change Chairman Oberstar started and championed through SRTS will continue much beyond his service.
Chairman Oberstar will be missed, but we look forward to his continued public service.
Director, National Center for Safe Routes to School