US Announces Community Reconnection Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation Thursday announced a $1 billion plan to reconnect U.S. communities that are cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure.

In a release, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said there are countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure such as a highway or railroad tracks cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built.

Such structures often isolate and marginalize low-income communities by making it more difficult to reach jobs, schools or health care.

Buttigieg said the Reconnecting Communities pilot program can remedy such situations with simple solutions like a pedestrian walkway over or under an existing highway, or better means of access such as crosswalks and redesigned intersections.

As an example of the kind of projects the program can fund, Buttigieg is scheduled to be in Birmingham, Alabama, late Thursday to announce a new rapid transit bus service. The DOT release says the Birmingham Xpress project will connect Alabamians in 25 communities to jobs, schools and health care.

The DOT said Reconnecting Communities is now accepting grant applications from states, local and tribal governments, metropolitan planning and nonprofit organizations, and other transportation facility owners.

The department said preference will be given to applications from economically disadvantaged communities.

The pilot program is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Congress approved last year.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, and Reuters.  

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