Dallas receives $800 million in federal grants to reconnect communities divided by highways

Dallas, Texas – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made an important announcement: $3.33 billion in grants are being allocated through two major initiatives, the Reconnecting Communities Pilot and the Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant programs. A total of $800 million of that money is set aside for projects in North Texas.

This money is an important part of President Biden’s greater plan, called the “Investing in America Agenda,” which aims to bring communities together that have been split up by highways and other transportation infrastructure. These separations have had profound consequences because they keep neighborhoods away from important services and amenities like schools, job opportunities, hospitals, and religious centers.

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An important part of this effort is called “Bridging Highway Divides for DFW Communities,” and its goal is to build four pedestrian overpasses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with a focus on three places in Dallas. Among these, the Interstate Highway 30 pedestrian caps stand out. This project plans to lay the groundwork for three pedestrian caps or parks over the interstate.  The move isn’t just making things looking nicer; it is intended to coincide with the Texas Department of Transportation’s work to improve IH 30, which should make connecting these areas easier.

In addition, Klyde Warren Park-Phase 2 project will also benefit of this grant. The goal of the project is to extend a walking cap/deck park further south, making it easier for people to get to and connecting areas while also making a community dream come true.

Following closely is the Southern Gateway Park – Phase 2.0, which aims to finalize a pedestrian crossing that not only completes the plaza but also connects two critical roadways, ensuring easy access.

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The last project, which is focusing on McKinney’s State Highway 5, includes a new concept: a sidewalk cap that is upside down. To do this, a bridge needs to be built within the existing passageway so that pedestrians can easily get to the area below the bridge. This will create a unique pedestrian plaza. The main objective here is to help the community that the highway tore apart and lessen the bad effects of this kind 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,” the project fact sheet reads. “North Texas highways in many cases were used to intentionally cut off access to daily needs. This project will address these historic inequities.”

These projects align with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which targets directing 40% of the benefits from certain federal investments towards communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved. The department has prioritized applications from areas showing significant community involvement and leadership in pushing for fairness and environmental justice.

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​​“While the purpose of transportation is to connect, in too many communities past infrastructure decisions have served instead to divide,” Buttigieg said in an official statement. “Now the Biden-Harris administration is acting to fix that.”

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