Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL07) joined Mayor Randall Woodfin to welcome U.S. Secretary of Transportation (DOT) Pete Buttigieg to Birmingham. During his visit, Buttigieg announced that the DOT is now accepting applications for the first-of-its-kind Reconnecting Communities program.

The new program was created by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The $1 billion pilot program will help reconnect communities that were deemed previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. The pilot program is designed to help reconnect people to economic opportunities and essential services in their communities.

"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,” said Buttigieg. "Using funds from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are proud to announce the launch of Reconnecting Communities: the first-ever dedicated federal initiative to unify neighborhoods living with the impacts of past infrastructure choices that divided them."

Preference will be given to applications from economically disadvantaged communities, especially those with projects that are focused on "equity and environmental justice, have strong community engagement and stewardship, and a commitment to shared prosperity and equitable development." Of the $195 million available from the grant program this year, $50 million is dedicated to planning activities for communities that may be earlier in the process.

For more information about the new program click here.

“The Reconnecting Communities program will help right the wrongs of our past by connecting neighborhoods that were previously divided by highways and other infrastructure,” said Sewell. “This is about making sure that people can live where they want to live more affordably while accessing the jobs, schools, and services our city has to offer. I applaud Secretary Buttigieg and the entire Biden-Harris Administration for making these investments which harness the power of transportation infrastructure to connect our communities and build a more equitable future.”

Sewell hosted a roundtable discussion with Secretary Buttigieg, Mayor Woodfin, and community stakeholders to give local officials the opportunity to speak directly with federal leaders. They then embarked on a bus tour to give the Secretary a firsthand look at the Birmingham Xpress Bus Rapid Transit service, a program that will soon connect residents from 25 communities to jobs, schools, and healthcare.

“I think it’s critically important that we bring together our local and federal officials for a chance to speak directly about the needs of those we serve,” said Sewell. “Conversations like these really help strengthen our partnership on behalf of the people of the 7th Congressional District and move our communities forward.”

Reconnecting a community could mean adapting existing infrastructure — such as building a pedestrian walkway over or under an existing highway — to better connect neighborhoods to opportunities or better means of access such as crosswalks and redesigned intersections.

Buttigieg also visited the 16th Street Baptist Church to connect with other community leaders and learn about the church’s history and role in catalyzing the Civil Rights Movement.

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