September 22, 2021
Dear members of Congress,
On behalf of a nationwide coalition of campaigns seeking to reimagine freeway corridors in American cities, we, the 84 undersigned organizations, calls on our leaders in Congress to support the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants proposed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee for the current reconciliation bill and include this program as part of any final infrastructure package.
We are thrilled with the transformative power that the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants will have for the over 10 million Americans who live adjacent to major transportation corridors. Too often, their communities bear the brunt of a highway’s ill effects, from the noxious emissions leading to lifelong health conditions to the severe disinvestment that drives away local businesses, services, and amenities. The Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants represent a historic investment in these communities and help them heal from the damage highways have caused. By funding freeway capping and highways-to-boulevards projects, these grants have the power to build new infrastructure that improves residents’ quality of life and supports more environmentally and economically resilient communities.
We are particularly impressed with the grant program’s prioritization of economically disadvantaged and underserved communities, often the communities of color considered expendable when highways are built. In particular, we applaud the grant program’s provision that grantees have anti-displacement protections in place before undertaking construction. Studies show that freeway capping and highways-to-boulevards projects generate immense economic benefits. They also show that projects removing infrastructure barriers can also increase the potential for the displacement of long standing residents, who find themselves priced out of their communities. Anti-displacement protections are a necessary step to ensure that the people living around highways now benefit from the investments made by the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants.
Finally, this grant program represents a true commitment to the Build Back Better pledge to deliver environmental justice and address climate change through new infrastructure investments. Its focus on building sustainable and affordable transportation infrastructure that reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases, dissipates the effects of urban heat islands, and better manages stormwater runoff and flooding backs the concepts of equity, sustainability, and community described by the Secretary of Transportation and the White House.
The Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants are an investment in both the physical and social infrastructure of our country, where more often than not one’s ZIP code serves as an indicator of access to opportunities. This program increases the number of communities whose physical environment will no longer hold them back from opportunity. For all the reasons included in this letter, we urge you to support the inclusion of the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants in the reconciliation bill.
Thank you for your leadership.
Congress for the New Urbanism
National Association of City Transportation Officials
New York, NY
Transportation for America
Center for Neighborhood Technology
Shared-Use Mobility Center
Transit Riders of the US Together
The City of Oakland
Puente Latino Association
Long Beach, CA
San Francisco, CA
St. Petersburg, FL
Active Transportation Alliance
Congress for the New Urbanism, Illinois Chapter
The Endeleo Institute, Inc.
The Equiticity Racial Equity Movement
Foundation for Homan Square
Metropolitan Planning Council
Acadian Group of the Sierra Club
Claiborne Avenue Alliance
New Orleans, LA
Transportation for Massachusetts
Detroit Greenways Coalition
Henry Ford Health System
Duluth Waterfront Collective
Our Streets Minneapolis
Downtown Council of Kansas City
Kansas City, MO
Urban Land Institute, Kansas City
Kansas City, MO
Seven Oaks Society
Albany Riverfront Collaborative
The Future of Small Cities Institute
Hinge Neighbors, Inc.
Institute for Public Architecture
New York, NY
Restore Our Community Coalition
The Scajaquada Corridor Coalition
Urban Design Center of Syracuse
Vision Niagara, Inc.
Durham Freeways to Boulevards Justice Project
Bridge Forward Cincinnati
Transform Tulsa Alliance
Business for a Better Portland
No More Freeways
Parking Reform Network
Catholic Social Action
Connect Urban Erie
Air Alliance Houston
Coalition for a New Dallas
Congress for the New Urbanism, Central Texas Chapter
Freeways for the People
El Paso, TX
Save Our Springs Alliance
Stop TxDOT I-45
Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition
El Paso, TX
Cultivate South Park
Disability Mobility Initiative, Disability Rights Washington
Seattle Parks Foundation
Transportation Choices Coalition
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
Law Office of Dennis M. Grzezinski
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Wisconsin Transit Riders Alliance