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The Senate infrastructure bill includes $1 billion to address devastation caused by freeways. Experts say it’s not enough

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11.08.2021

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate aims to build a lot. It also hopes to tear some stuff down.

Included in the bill’s 2,000-plus pages is a plan for a pilot program to demolish urban freeways.

The program would target urban freeway projects that, either through happenstance or malice, destroyed neighborhoods and divided communities from the 1950s onward. With $1 billion set aside for the task, the bill could create a high profile catalyst for rethinking freeways in cities.

“It represents a new kind of program and something that hasn’t been part of the federal infrastructure policy framework before,” says Robert Puentes, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington D.C. transportation policy center. “It makes the concept of freeway removal real for places that may not have been thinking about it, places that may realize this is now an option for them. All of these nudges in the right direction from the federal government are important.”

Named the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, its main goal is technically not only the demolition of freeways but rebuilding the neighborhoods they’ve affected. As described in the bill’s text, the program focuses on efforts to either remove or retrofit freeways in order to reduce physical barriers that blocked economic opportunities, doomed minority owned businesses, and demolished thousands of homes in communities of color. The program would fund feasibility studies on the impacts of removing, retrofitting, or mitigating freeways that have cut communities apart, and begin planning those efforts. For removal plans already in the works, the bill could also provide the first dollars to actually begin tearing the roads down. The bill lists no specific........

© Fast Company


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