The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday it is accepting applications for the Reconnecting Communities pilot program. This $1 billion discretionary grant program was established by the bipartisan infrastructure law last year.
The intent of the program is to help reconnect communities previously cut off by transportation infrastructure such as highways. States, units of local governments, federally recognized tribal governments, metropolitan planning organizations and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.
While efforts such as these are often associated with highway teardowns, the grant program allows for smaller projects such as building a pedestrian walkway across an existing highway, adding crosswalks or redesigning intersections.
Preference will be given to applications from economically disadvantaged communities, especially those with projects that are focused on equity and environmental justice, DOT said in a press release. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 13, with awards expected to be announced early next year.
DOT also launched the Thriving Communities Initiative on Thursday, a program that will provide technical assistance and planning support for infrastructure projects that serve disadvantaged communities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will assist to improve the coordination of housing and transportation planning. Applications will be accepted in the fall once notices of funding opportunities are posted by DOT and HUD.