Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants Coalition Letter - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants Coalition Letter

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.

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