Outside of New Jersey, Cory Booker is probably best known for running into a burning building to save a woman’s life. Inside New Jersey, he’s better known for trying — with mixed results — to turn around the state’s biggest and perhaps most troubled city, Newark. Nowhere has he made a particular name for himself on transportation.
That all might change. Mayor Booker became Senator Booker yesterday, replacing Frank Lautenberg, whose support for rail transport was so integral to his identity that his casket was carried to Washington on an Amtrak train.
Not only will Booker replace Lautenberg in the Senate, he’s replacing Lautenberg on two key committees with jurisdiction over transportation: the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is in charge of crafting the surface transportation bill, and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which authors the bill’s rail and “safety” portions.
The Commerce committee authored laudable rail and safety legislation for MAP-21, only to see it get left on the cutting room floor. That was a shame, because it included an important provision for multiplying complete streets policies around the country — a goal Cory Booker shares.
Booker was enthusiastic last year when Newark passed a complete streets policy, boasting, “Newark’s streets will be the safest and most welcoming in the entire nation.”
“We have taken a holistic approach to making our streets and sidewalks safe and accessible for all of our residents and visitors, whether they walk, drive, or bicycle,” he said. Booker himself is always game for a bike ride.