February 2022 Update
Updates on new federal funding opportunities, infrastructure-related news from around Indianapolis, and what’s happening with highways in two New York cities.

This month’s Update focuses on new federal funding opportunities for infrastructure redevelopment, infrastructure-related news from around Indianapolis, and what’s happening with highways in two New York cities.

Potential Funding for Indianapolis Efforts

New federal funding available via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act offers a historic opportunity to rethink and rebuild highway structures and knit back together the communities they separate from job centers, services, commercial districts, and other neighborhoods. The Act’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program will provide $351 billion for highway programs and $91 billion for transit programs, including $1 billion for planning studies and technical assistance to address aging infrastructure that, based on preliminary investigations, can be removed, retrofitted, or mitigated to restore community connectivity. Awards can be up to $2 million per recipient.

The Inner Loop and communities impacted by the barriers it creates fit squarely into this description. Rethink will be working with key partners at the city, region, and state to help position Indianapolis for a grant from the Pilot Program.

US Chamber of Commerce Weighs In on Infrastructure Opportunities

The US Chamber of Commerce recently weighed in on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, highlighting in its Equality of Opportunity Webinar: Inclusive Infrastructure Investment[MW1] how the Act provides a once-in-a-generation chance to close opportunity gaps in our nation’s core infrastructure.

As Rick Wade, Sr. VP of Strategic Alliances and Outreach explains, in addition to money for highways and transit programs, the Act includes funding to replace lead water pipes and clean up Superfund and brownfields sites – issues most prominent in low-income, minority communities – essential steps to support local economic growth. It also includes funding for broadband equity, closing the gaps in our infrastructure to address opportunity disparities. Wade points to a W.K. Kellogg Foundation study, the “Business Case for Racial Equity.” According to Wade, if we can get our infrastructure right and eliminate racial inequities across society, we all stand to gain to the tune of $8 trillion by 2050.

Link to US Chamber Webinar: https://www.uschamber.com/on-demand/diversity-and-inclusion/equality-of-opportunity-in-action-inclusive-infrastructure-investment?autoplay=1&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=SFMC&utm_campaign=&utm_content=

Link to Rick Wade’s Overview: https://www.uschamber.com/diversity/infrastructure-inclusion-a-tie-that-can-bind-america-together?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=SFMC&utm_campaign=&utm_content=

Link to Study: https://wkkf.issuelab.org/resource/business-case-for-racial-equity.html

Around Indianapolis

Important Article About Redlining

(Indiana Historical Society)

Tom Gallagher, urban designer and columnist for the Indianapolis Business Journal, recently wrote an important article about the impact of redlining on American cities, and the uphill battle we face in trying to repair the damage done by maps the Homeowners Loan Corporation created to help investors determine the security of their investments. As Gallagher writes, the maps were “self-fulfilling in that they led to a cycle of devaluation, disinvestment and displacement in many of the areas designated as declining and dangerous.”

For Indianapolis, this meant that nearly a third of the city was considered dangerous to invest in, and many of those areas are still starved of resources and opportunity. Gallagher asks the critical question: how do we bring investment to areas that need it without causing displacement and, instead, include residents in new opportunities for building wealth and securing wellness? Community land trusts and other community wealth structures may offer solutions. Rethink is taking this question and potential solutions seriously as we consider how land that would be freed up from recessing the highway could be equitably developed.

Here’s a link to Gallagher’s article (requires a subscription): https://www.ibj.com/articles/gallagher-repairing-the-damage-done-by-red-lining-is-an-uphill-battle?utm_source=this-week-in-ibj&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_ca

16 Tech Bridge Development – A Commitment to Building Quality of Place in Indianapolis

In December 2021, the 16 Tech Community Corporation revealed the design for the new signature bridge that will connect Indianapolis’s research corridor to the 16 Tech Innovation District, a 50-acre live-work-innovate community focused on bringing together entrepreneurs, academics, startups, corporations, and creatives in a single place to spark the exchange of ideas that lead to innovation.

According to Emily Krueger, COO of 16 Tech Corporation, to create an architectural centerpiece for the city, the design team combined engineering, design thinking, and thoughtful community engagement—the type of collaboration Rethink seeks to model in facilitating community conversations about rebuilding the Inner Loop.

The District and the bridge make important contributions to Indianapolis’s quality of place, features of our physical environment that help make our city a desirable, competitive, and vibrant place to live, work, and visit. Imagine how the quality of our city will improve if we think as carefully about how we rebuild the Inner Loop!

Click here to read more about the 16 Tech bridge design: https://16tech.com/16techbridge/

News from Other Cities

Albany, NY Reimagining its Urban Highway


The Albany Riverfront Collaborative is organizing conversations about reimagining I-787, a massively overbuilt interstate that cuts Albany, the capital of New York, off from the Hudson River. A diverse coalition of concerned citizens formed the Collaborative and launched a campaign around persuasive renderings and videos, aiming to build a new model for community involvement and support for what Albany might look like.

With equity as its core principle, the Collaborative describes its work as going beyond inclusion to co-creation, seeking to remaining humble as its explore how to revitalize and reconnect existing communities while welcoming new growth.

Link to website: https://www.albanyriverfrontcollaborative.com/

NY to Remove I-81 in Downtown Syracuse


In January, New York Governor, Kathy Hochul confirmed that she added $1.1B to her budget to tear down 1.4 miles of elevated I-81 through downtown Syracuse and build a street-level community grid in its place. High-speed thru traffic will use an improved Interstate 481 bypass around the city’s suburbs. Drivers headed into Syracuse will drop down to improved city streets to reach local destinations.

Hochul said her focus is reconnecting the community that was split in the 1950s and ‘60s and emphasizing equitable development. Proposing the state spend billions for housing and economic development, the plan envisions a neighborhood of beautiful affordable townhomes and apartment buildings with first-floor retail shops and restaurants.

Unlike Syracuse, Indianapolis has two intersecting interstates passing through its downtown, and current capacity on the I-465 outer loop is insufficient to serve as a substitute. As a result, the current Rethink proposal maintains I-65/70 traffic through downtown but attempts to better isolate it from local traffic through recessed construction and reconnected boulevards.

Click here to read more about the I-81 teardown: https://www.archpaper.com/2022/01/new-york-will-finally-tear-down-syracuses-maligned-i-81-highway/

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