The Biden administration introduced a $1 billion effort to rectify racist infrastructure choices of the previous, resembling highways that had been constructed by bulldozing Black communities.

This system, which the Division of Transportation is asking “Reconnecting Communities,” will in some circumstances tear down highways that had been constructed with the expressed goal of making bodily boundaries between principally Black and minority communities. Different tasks will concentrate on constructing new infrastructure, like greenways to advertise biking and strolling or transit applications, like fast bus strains to reconnect communities to city cores.

“Our focus isn’t about assigning blame. It isn’t about getting caught up in guilt or remorse. It’s about fixing an issue,” mentioned Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a briefing with reporters. “It’s about mending what has been damaged, particularly when the injury was executed by way of taxpayer {dollars}.”

Buttigieg traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, Thursday to announce that the division was now accepting functions for the Reconnecting Communities pilot program. Birmingham officers plan on utilizing federal funds from this system to finance a brand new bus fast transit system within the metropolis.

The cash, which might be unfold out over 5 years, was included within the bipartisan infrastructure invoice that was signed into regulation by President Joe Biden late final 12 months. Of the $1 billion devoted to the pilot program, $195 million might be obtainable in 2022, whereas $50 million will go towards planning actions for communities which may be early within the software course of.

Officers mentioned that choice might be given to “economically deprived communities, particularly these with tasks which might be targeted on fairness and environmental justice, have sturdy group engagement and stewardship, and a dedication to shared prosperity and equitable improvement.”

There are quite a few egregious examples of infrastructure tasks throughout the twentieth century that had been designed to drawback low-income communities, particularly Black and Hispanic folks. For instance, the infamous city planner, Robert Moses, designed a parkway to Jones Seashore on Lengthy Island with a sequence of overpasses that had been too brief to accommodate buses, primarily reducing off Black and Puerto Rican residents’ entry to the seashore.

Different examples embrace Syracuse, the place Interstate 80 was purposefully constructed by way of a thriving Black neighborhood within the Nineteen Sixties, displacing a whole lot of residents. This fall, New York State plans on beginning the method of tearing down the elevated freeway, sending slower site visitors to road stage and quicker site visitors across the metropolis on what’s now I-481.

Stephanie Pollack, deputy administrator on the Federal Freeway Administration, mentioned there’s a historic alternative to proper the wrongs of the previous by investing in high-quality public transportation, pedestrian walkways, and linear parks and trails that encourage strolling, biking, and improved mobility for close by residents.

“The place present transportation infrastructure creates boundaries to group connectivity, we are able to help investments in retrofitting new roadway designs, full road conversions, and essential road revitalizations,” she mentioned.

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