FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Public Affairs
David Broughton, 410-865-1029 or Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program Championed by
Maryland's Congressional Delegation to Overcome Transportation Divisions
HANOVER, MD (October 25, 2023) – The Maryland Department of Transportation has submitted five funding requests for nearly $24 million to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods grant program for projects that will restore community connections and address transportation facilities that have historically divided neighborhoods.
“It's incumbent upon the Maryland Department of Transportation to take an inclusive and proactive approach to identify and deliver projects that restore community connectivity and increase access to schools, transit, medical facilities and other key elements of community life," said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld. “We worked closely with our local partners to develop grant applications that will leverage this important federal program to benefit our neighbors, and we'll continue to engage and collaborate at every level to create and restore community connectivity."
The Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program is modeled after legislation introduced by Maryland's Congressional delegation, and prioritizes projects that reconnect disadvantaged communities by removing, retrofitting or mitigating transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, mobility, access or economic development. Earlier this year, Baltimore received a $2 million Reconnection Communities Program grant to plan redevelopment of the US 40 “highway to nowhere" in West Baltimore, a roadway segment that displaced homes, businesses and 1,500 residents when it was built more than 50 years ago.
In this new round, the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program will provide $3.3 billion in competitive grant awards to states and jurisdictions across the country. Details on the Maryland Department of Transportation applications are available here. The projects include:
- Connecting Westport to Mobility and Opportunity (Construction) – This project supports realignment of Kloman Street in the Westport area of Baltimore, a historically disadvantaged community. The project will remove barriers to transit and recreational opportunities created by roads and freight rail tracks, create new active transportation infrastructure on a facility that currently lacks sidewalks. The project also will help to spark transformative and inclusive economic development in the neighborhood. Grant request: $15.1 million
- Enhancing Easton Neighborhood Access on US 50 (Construction) – This project will add new sidewalks, provide raised landscaped medians, and install new pedestrian signals at MD 328 and MD 331 on US 50, from Dutchman's Lane to Lomax Street. These enhancements represent a comprehensive suite of improvements that will increase access to essential destinations for the community in a historically disadvantaged rural area. Grant request: $3.3 million
- Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont Community Connection Plan (Planning) – The plan will determine pedestrian, bicycle, transit and safety needs of community residents from Forest Glen Road to MD 182 (Layhill Road) on MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) and identify public improvements to include in future joint development efforts at the Wheaton Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Red Line rail station. Earlier this year, Secretary Wiedefeld toured this area together with Governor Wes Moore, Montgomery County Councilwoman Natali Fani-Gonzalez and other elected and local leaders. Grant request: $2.3 million
- National Road – Dual Highway Reconnecting Hagerstown Plan (Planning) – The plan will engage communities and stakeholders around the future of the National Road (US 40) from Cannon Avenue to All Star Court in Hagerstown. If funded, the study will analyze sidewalks and active transportation gaps, transit infrastructure improvements, crosswalk improvements, lighting improvements, and new pedestrian crossings through the corridor to create stronger neighborhood connectivity and access to essential destinations. Grant request: $1.6 million
- Unlocking University Boulevard-Greenbelt Road Community Connectivity Plan (Planning) – This project will build off the City of Greenbelt's planning efforts to engage local communities and determine a unified vision around the future of MD 193 from Rhode Island Avenue to Hanover Parkway. The comprehensive study will analyze potential road diets, sidewalks and active transportation gaps, transit infrastructure improvements, crosswalks, and trail and recreational facility connectivity through the corridor to create stronger neighborhood connectivity and access to essential destinations. Grant request: $1.6 million
The Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program combines the benefits of two separate programs – Reconnecting Communities Pilot and Neighborhood Access and Equity – to provide applicants with a convenient, streamlined application process for federal discretionary grants. Grant applications were submitted in late September, and a response is expected within the next six months.
The Maryland Department of Transportation also supported a $2 million grant application by the Maryland Transportation Authority for its Reconnecting South Baltimore project, which seeks to address community, economic and environmental challenges posed by the I-95 divide. The project includes modified I-95 ramp connectors as well as pedestrian and bicycle paths intended to link South Baltimore communities to each other and back to the heart of Baltimore City.
The department also supported grants submitted by several other local and state partners, including:
- Anne Arundel County;
- City of Aberdeen;
- City of Baltimore;
- City of Bowie;
- City of Rockville;
- Maryland Environmental Service;
- Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (Montgomery County);
- Queen Anne's County; and
- Town of Berlin.
The Maryland Department of Transportation has resources available to help partners and stakeholder groups apply for federal grants. The department has launched a Federal Grant Information website, with information on open grants, webinars, advice for applicants and a mailing list to keep all parties up to date. Counties, local jurisdictions and other partners are encouraged to follow the page and sign up for the mailing list. For details, contact Sean Winkler at email@example.com.