WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) announced the inclusion of provisions from their Reconnecting Communities Act, legislation the two Senators introduced alongside Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) to help remove harmful infrastructure that divides communities, such as the Baltimore Highway to Nowhere. In March 2019, a pilot program mirroring this proposal was originally authored by Senator Van Hollen, and included within the Environment and Public Works Committee’s bipartisan America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, which was cosponsored by Senator Cardin, and passed unanimously by the Committee. Earlier this year, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen gathered with local elected officials in Baltimore, including Mayor Brandon Scott, to push for passage of this proposal. The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Anthony Brown and Kweisi Mfume and sponsored by Congressman John Sarbanes (all D-Md.).
“Transportation should be a source of growth and mobility, not division and exclusion,” said Senator Cardin, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “We need to tear down the physical barriers to opportunity in Baltimore City and elsewhere that have suffered the harmful impacts of past infrastructure projects, while receiving none of the benefits. This kind of federal program is long overdue, but now there is bipartisan recognition that the time has come for federal action to support communities that were left out and harmed by our outdated approaches to infrastructure.”
“For decades, the Highway to Nowhere has divided West Baltimore. This project, which paved over communities and displaced some 1,500 residents – serves as a stark example of the long history of inequity in the siting of infrastructure. To create opportunity and build stronger cities, we must right this wrong and remove harmful infrastructure that separates our communities. Upon taking office, I committed to finding a solution to this challenge – and today we’re one big step closer to delivering. I initially worked to author a pilot program to help tackle this issue in 2019, and we’ve kept fighting ever since. I’m glad to see the inclusion of this key priority in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, and I’m committed to getting this – as well as the other main objectives of President Biden’s American Jobs and Families Plans – across the finish line,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure deal creates a first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure. The program will fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks, or other infrastructure through $1 billion of dedicated funding.