WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Congressmen Kweisi Mfume and Dutch Ruppersberger (all D-Md.), and Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott were joined Monday by U.S. Under Secretary of Transportation Carlos Monje and Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld in front of the Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore to highlight the City’s recently awarded $2 million in federal funding to plan for the redevelopment of this structure which has divided West Baltimore for so long. The lawmakers fought to secure this funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Program, a new program they worked successfully to create within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
The provisions in the infrastructure law were modeled off of legislation authored by Senator Van Hollen and introduced as a bill by Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cardin, who championed the legislation in his role as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the Senate, and led by Congressmen Mfume, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, and Trone in the House, along with then-Congressman Anthony Brown. The program was designed specifically with the Highway to Nowhere in mind – to reconnect communities isolated and excluded from economic opportunity by past infrastructure decisions. Following Baltimore City’s application for this Reconnecting Communities Program funding, the federal lawmakers wrote in October 2022 to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging him to support the project.
“Baltimore City’s Franklin-Mulberry Corridor is the poster child for the Reconnecting Communities Program. With new federal funding to support planning for communities to finally move past outdated infrastructure that has imposed a burden of isolation and exclusion, we are providing justice and correcting a wrong that was committed against West Baltimore,” said Senator Cardin. “Team Maryland worked together to bring these funds home. What comes next will be developed with transparency and local community input, both of which were sorely lacking when this road to nowhere was first built.”
“For decades the ‘Highway to Nowhere’ in West Baltimore has divided and displaced a once-thriving community. But with these federal funds that we fought to deliver through the infrastructure modernization law, the City can begin working to right this wrong. Together, we will keep moving forward in our efforts to reconnect this community, revitalize its neighborhoods, and boost economic opportunity for residents,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“I am proud to announce this $2 million planning grant to allow Baltimore City to study how it will finally right the wrong that is the Highway to Nowhere. This Highway is a sore reminder of past efforts to connect Baltimore’s Central Business District with surrounding interstates, that instead separated City communities as a result of indifferent public planning at best and willful neglect at worst,” said Congressman Mfume. “Whatever the case may be, the Team Maryland Congressional Delegation is committed to fighting to reconnect these communities once again. I am confident Baltimore City, as a recipient of this impactful federal funding, will go forth with a clear and renewed vision for the future,” he concluded.
“As we continue our push to rebuild and improve America’s aging infrastructure, we must also work to remove infrastructure that has caused more harm than good — like Baltimore’s Highway to Nowhere,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “I can’t think of a more worthy project for this type of investment, which will not only bring communities together, but will drive economic development and job creation. I am proud of the team effort that made this funding possible.”
“The ‘Highway to Nowhere’ is nothing short of being a racist structure that fell woefully flat on delivering on its promise to connect the City of Baltimore to surrounding suburbs. As a result of that broken promise, it displaced families, dismantled neighborhoods, and shuttered thriving small businesses,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “With the support from our federal and state delegations, Baltimore, specifically West Baltimore, can begin the healing process of doing what should have been done in the first place, and that’s putting the needs and wants Baltimoreans first.”
“Transportation is supposed to connect people – but in too many places, it did the exact opposite. That’s what happened here in West Baltimore 50 years ago when planners set a highway project in motion that razed dozens of homes and displaced over 1,000 residents. This $2 million is about reckoning with the impact of this project and repairing the damage it caused. It is one of 45 Reconnecting Communities grants that DOT has awarded so far, totaling $185 million, to reunite neighborhoods and catalyze growth across the country,” said Carlos Monje, Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation.
“The West Baltimore United Project will complement Governor Wes Moore’s priorities of equity, economic development and the environment,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “The Maryland Transit Administration was proud to partner with Baltimore City and provide $400,000 in matching funds to help secure the $2 million federal funding grant.”
In October 2022, Baltimore City requested this $2 million grant from the Reconnecting Communities Program for their proposed planning study of the removal of the Highway to Nowhere. More details on the City’s proposal, which this award funds at the requested level, are available at https://streetsofbaltimore.com/reconnecting-communities-in-west-baltimore.