$1 Billion ‘Reconnecting Communities’ Program Accepting Applications to Repair Damage of Racist Transportation Planning

The Biden administration has talked about the need to repair the damages of a racist history of transportation planning in the United States. The time has finally come to put their money where their mouth is.

July 4, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

The Interstate 10 freeway cuts through residential neighborhoods in the city of Alhambra. Downtown Los Angeles is visible in the background,

Interstate 10 in Alhambra, California, just to the east of Downtown Los Angeles. | Matt Gush / Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced the Reconnecting Communities pilot program, a first-of-its kind federal program designed to “reconnect communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure,” according to a June 30 press release.

“Reconnecting a community could mean adapting existing infrastructure– such as building a pedestrian walkway over or under an existing highway– to better connect neighborhoods to opportunities or better means of access such as crosswalks and redesigned intersections,” adds the press release.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Birmingham, Alabama to announce that the pilot program is now accepting applications for funding. Birmingham was chosen for the announcement thanks to its ongoing work on the Birmingham Xpress project—"new bus rapid transit service that will connect Alabamans in 25 communities to jobs, schools, and healthcare.”

The Reconnecting Communities has $1 billion in funding allotted in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on the same day announced the “Thriving Communities Initiative to provide technical assistance and hands-on planning support for transformative infrastructure projects that serve disadvantaged communities,” according to the press release. “This includes a new DOT Navigator to provide better access to technical assistance programs across the Department, and a new program to provide capacity building support to communities.”

For news coverage of the Reconnecting Communities pilot program, see an article by Kea Wilson for Streetsblog USA, which identifies and details four key takeaways from the announcement: 1) t probably won’t remove many highways … at least not on its own, 2) It’s not just about highways, 3) Equitable projects are most likely to win this money, and 4) It’s not just $1 billion.

Another article by Daniel C. Vock for Route Fifty provides additional news coverage of the Reconnecting Communities pilot program, noting up from that the $1 billion allotted for the program is a far cry from the $20 billion sought for the program by the Biden administration.  

Thursday, June 30, 2022 in U.S. Department Of Transportation

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