State leaders announce new $1.4 million study to reconnect Pittsburgh neighborhoods

PITTSBURGH — On Friday, Senator Casey joined fellow state and local leaders to announce a $1.4 million study. The Reconnect North Side Communities grant was awarded to the City of Pittsburgh and Manchester Citizens Corporation from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Reconnecting Communities Pilot grant program, created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Route 65 connects the east to the west accommodating thousands of drivers daily. And in the 70s, officials raised a portion of Route 65 (Ohio River Boulevard) to create an expressway connecting the Fort Duquesne bridge on the North Shore to the McKees Rocks bridge.

While convenient, it turned one community into two, creating the Manchester and Chateau neighborhoods.

“People were cut off from jobs, cut off from opportunities, cut off from economic development, cut off from a full life,” said Democratic Senator Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania.

Other local politicians are trying to use this opportunity as a way to make things better.

“It’s hard it’s very difficult to acknowledge past wrongs it’s even harder to start to figure out a way of remedying them,” said Congresswoman Summer Lee, 12th Congressional District (D).

The erection of the massive highway was detrimental to the predominantly Black and brown communities living there.

“It catalyzed commercial disinvestment, limited pedestrian access, and further exacerbated already existing inequities due to racist and classist red lining,” Lee said.

The first-of-its-kind grant money will fund the Bidwell Urban Farm project. A collection of local farmers and artisans will provide fresh food to the community; something Pittsburgh’s mayor said is an important first step.

“It’s how we make this city more welcoming and safer to ensure that our communities and neighborhoods don’t have to deal with the inconveniences they’ve dealt with in the past that is why we are here,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey (D).

The urban farm will be completed by next spring; while officials said the study will open the door for more funding and investments.

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