Update: USDOT now accepting applications for the Reconnecting American Communities program

Many communities were cut off by highway projects. A new program aims to help.

By Sam Little, PIRG Transportation Advocate.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that they are accepting applications for the Reconnecting American Communities Program. This first-of-its-kind program allocates $1 billion to fund projects that will reconnect communities previously cut off from neighbors, parks, economic opportunities and services by highways.

Highways frequently cause harm to the communities they slice through. PIRG’s Highway Boondoggles report has detailed over 60 wasteful or unnecessary expansion projects in the last ten years alone. Highways can force the relocation of homes and businesses, create “dead zones,” sever street connections for pedestrians and cars, and reduce a city’s taxable property base.

This program has the potential to stitch neighborhoods back together and correct past mistakes. But given the extent of the damage, it will need more funding to do this on a large scale. State departments of transportation should also avoid building or widening new highways that divide communities and instead use dollars from the infrastructure law to create more transportation options.

Photo by David Martin on Unsplash.