US News Senate Considering $10B for Highway Removal

tom_mai78101

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Cities might soon get federal money to tear down inner-city highways that federal dollars built in the first place — and use that money to reinvest in communities of color that those highways destroyed.

Shortly before the holiday recess, then-Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and a coalition of 25 Democratic senators introduced a $435 billion economic justice bill called S5065 that included a $10-billion pilot program aimed at helping communities tear down urban highways, and rebuild the surrounding neighborhoods with the needs of underserved communities in mind. The Restoring Neighborhoods and Strengthening Communities Program — known among advocates as the “Highways to Boulevards” initiative — would only be available for projects located in regions with a high concentration of low income residents or residents of color.

Perhaps most critically, the initiative would make significant funds available specifically for the “community engagement and capacity building” necessary to identify what underserved residents actually want to do with all the valuable land freed up when freeways are torn down. Such funds are rarely the focus of federal transportation grants, which typically prioritize hard construction costs over the dignity of the surrounding community.

“There’s already funding available for highway deconstruction in various other pots of money at the Department of Transportation, especially as so many of our highways reach the end of their life,” said Lynn Richards, president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism, which collaborated on the writing of the bill. “And of course, there always seems to be money for highway construction. What there’s almost no money for are for the feasibility studies, the capacity building, and the coalition building with the people who are actually impacted by highway projects — or by highway removal projects. That’s what’s really special about this bill.”


Read more here. (USA Streets Blog)
 
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