Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is launching a $1 billion pilot program aimed at helping reconnect cities and neighborhoods racially segregated or divided by road projects.
Buttigieg promises wide-ranging help to dozens of communities despite the program's limited dollars. Under the Reconnecting Communities program, cities and states can apply for federal aid over five years to rectify the harm caused by roadways built primarily through lower-income, Black communities after the 1950s creation of the interstate highway system.
Projects could include new rapid bus transit lines; caps built on top of highways with green spaces, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to allow for safe crossings; and partial removal of highways.
“We can’t ignore the basic truth: that some of the planners and politicians behind those projects built them directly through the heart of vibrant populated communities,” he said. “Sometimes as an effort to reinforce segregation. Sometimes because the people there have less power to resist. And sometimes as part of a direct effort to replace or eliminate Black neighborhoods.”
“Transportation can connect us to jobs, services and loved ones, but we‘ve also seen countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built,” Buttigieg said.