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Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA): Reconnecting Communities Pilot

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA): Reconnecting Communities Pilot

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), providing “$973 billion over five years from Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 through FY 2026, including $550 billion in new investments for transportation, water, power and energy, environmental remediation, public lands, broadband and resilience.” (naco.org)

Collage image with a bridge, electric car charging and person in a wheelchair crossing the road

Several of these new funding streams will distribute funds via competitive grants. HRTPO staff assisted grant applicants (VDOT and member localities) by laying groundwork for their grant applications. In particular, IIJA’s focus in addressing climate change and healthy communities presented an opportunity for HRTPO staff to assist in efforts related to the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.

According to the IIJA “Build a Better America” guidebook, the “Reconnecting Communities Pilot [RCP] Program will restore community connectivity by removing, retrofitting, or mitigating highways or other transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, including to mobility, access, or economic development."

As an aid to localities intending to prepare RCP grant applications, HRTPO staff identified local “facilities that create barriers to community connectivity”, providing interested locality stakeholders with the following information:

  • a list of existing projects that could reconnect communities (including a bridge replacement and highway and pedestrian overpasses)
  • maps of additional communities bifurcated by highways and at a select location, photos showing the pros and cons of existing pedestrian infrastructure
  • maps of known locations where railroads bifurcate communities as well as maps of additional communities identified  by staff review of local railroads.

An example map of a local community—Southern Ingleside in Norfolk, bifurcated by a railroad crossing the only neighborhood access—is shown below.

Map image of Southern Ingleside in Norfolk

In 2022, the City of Newport News submitted an RCP grant application for improvements to 28th Street. While the application was unsuccessful in receiving funding, the City intends to resubmit this year.

The first round of the RCP grants in FY 2022 provided $185 million in grant awards to 45 projects across the country to help reconnect communities that are cut off from opportunity and address the burdens imposed by past transportation infrastructure decisions. The USDOT has announced a joint Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the next round of Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhood (RCN) program with a closing date of Thursday, September 28, 2023.  More information on the grant is available on the USDOT website.

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