Dallas Awarded $800m in Federal Funds to Restore Unity in Highway-split Communities


U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made an important announcement: Two main efforts, the Reconnecting Communities Pilot and the Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant programs, will provide $3.33 billion in awards. A total of $800 million has been set aside for projects in North Texas.

This money is an important aspect of President Biden’s larger strategy, known as the “Investing in America Agenda,” which aims to reconnect communities that have been separated by highways and other transportation infrastructure. These divisions have had far-reaching implications since they keep neighborhoods away from vital services and facilities such as schools, job opportunities, hospitals, and religious institutions.

An essential component of this initiative is dubbed “Bridging Highway Divides for DFW Communities,” which aims to construct four pedestrian overpasses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with an emphasis on three locations in Dallas. The pedestrian caps for Interstate Highway 30 are particularly notable.

This initiative aims to lay the groundwork for three pedestrian caps or parks across the highway. The change isn’t just about making things seem nicer; it’s timed to coincide with the Texas Department of Transportation’s efforts to upgrade IH 30, which should make connecting these places easier.

Additionally, the Klyde Warren Park-Phase 2 project will benefit from this grant. The project’s purpose is to expand a walking cap/deck park further south, making it easier to access and connect places while also fulfilling a community dream.

Following closely after is Southern Gateway Park – Phase 2.0, which intends to build a pedestrian crossing that not only completes the plaza but also connects two vital routes for simple access.

The final piece, which focuses on McKinney’s State Highway 5, introduces a novel concept: an upside-down sidewalk cap. To do this, a bridge must be created within the existing tunnel so that people may readily access the area beneath the bridge. This will result in a distinctive pedestrian plaza. The primary goal here is to assist the community that the highway has torn apart and mitigate the negative consequences of this type of infrastructure.

“All four highways capped by this project disrupted and displaced local communities removed historical landmarks, and resulted in unequal distribution of resources, leaving one side of the highway more prosperous while the others experienced disinvestment,” according to the fact sheet on the project. “North Texas roadways were often utilized to deliberately cut off access to everyday necessities. “This project will address these historical inequities.”

These projects are consistent with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to direct 40% of the benefits of certain federal expenditures to historically marginalized and neglected communities. The department has favored proposals from locations with strong community involvement and leadership in advocating for fairness and environmental justice.

Buttigieg stated that while transportation should connect communities, past infrastructure decisions have often divided them. “Now the Biden-Harris administration is acting to fix that.”

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