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Blunt Rochester & Evans: Wilmington, Philly Highway-Divided Neighborhoods Could See Improvements under House-passed

WILMINGTON, Del. – Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), jointly visited highway-divided neighborhoods in their respective cities today to highlight the $3 billion Reconnecting Communities bill recently passed by the House of Representatives that could help those neighborhoods. Both Blunt Rochester and Evans led the visits and heard from leaders of the affected communities.

“My family moved to the City of Wilmington in 1969, just a few short years after the completion of I-95. The impact of the interstate cutting through the heart of the city was evident back then – and so many of the problems created or exacerbated by its construction persist to this day,” said Blunt Rochester. “I was proud to join Congressman Evans, Senator Carper, and so many local and community leaders from Wilmington and Philadelphia to discuss how the Reconnecting Communities Act could serve as a meaningful investment in reconnecting those neighborhoods that were torn apart by interstate construction. This bill will help our constituents in a number of areas, from environmental justice to our health, to strengthening our economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that whatever infrastructure package we pass includes this critical piece of legislation.”

“It’s a great step forward to have the $3 billion Reconnecting Communities Bill (H.R. 2833) passed by the House as part of the Invest in America Act. This federal funding could help with things like removing or capping highways, or making other improvements, in Philadelphia neighborhoods like Nicetown, Chinatown, and the Delaware River waterfront area that have taken the biggest hits from highways. It’s time to put people before pavement and communities before cars,” Evans said.

In Wilmington, the members of Congress saw firsthand how I-95 cuts through the city, followed by a roundtable discussion that included:

  • U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), lead Senate sponsor of the Reconnecting Communities bill
  • Nicole Majeski, Secretary, Delaware Department of Transportation
  • State Sens. Sarah McBride, Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman and Darius Brown
  • State Reps. Gerald Brady, Nnamdi Chukwuocha, and Sherry Dorsey Walker 
  • Kelly Williams, Wilmington’s Public Works Commissioner
  • Cassandra Marshall, president, Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association
  • Sarah Lester, president & CEO, Cornerstone West Community Development Corp.
  • India Colon, vice president, Nuestras Raices Inc.
  • Dr. Nina David, University of Delaware
  • Samuel Seo, Student, University of Delaware
  • Ms. Caren Turner
  • Jakai Rowe, CommUnity

In Philadelphia Blunt Rochester & Evans saw how the Vine Street Expressway (I-676) cuts through Chinatown, followed by a roundtable with PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian and four leaders of the affected Nicetown, Chinatown and Delaware River waterfront communities:

  • Eleanor Sharpe, executive director, Philadelphia City Planning Commission
  • Majeedah Rashid, chief operating officer, Nicetown Community Development Corp.
  • John Chin, executive director, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp.
  • Joe Forkin, president, Delaware River Waterfront Corp.

Several state and local officials participated in the Philadelphia event and had the opportunity to ask questions after the panelists’ testimony.

The House Reconnecting Communities bill has two Maryland representatives as co-lead sponsors.

“Transforming our infrastructure and investing in our communities is critically important to our nation’s recovery. For decades, communities of color have been underinvested in, deliberately harmed, and divided by bad transportation policy. As overpasses and infrastructure barriers were erected, residents saw mobility and opportunity limited, while pollution and other hazards increase,” said Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD), who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “We have a generational opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and build more inclusive infrastructure that connects and benefits every community in our country.”

Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) said, “This is bold legislation that addresses too many wrongs in too many places across America, including with Baltimore’s ‘Highway to Nowhere’ in my district. We seek to empower and connect communities to one another with this bill. We also seek to connect communities to economic opportunities, more academic possibilities, arts and entertainment, healthy food options, inviting open-space options, and so much more. It’s never too late to undo the wrongs of the past.”

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