Rep. Sewell Welcomes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to Birmingham to Announce Program to Reconnect Communities
June 30, 2022
Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) joined Mayor Randall Woodfin to welcome U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to Birmingham, Alabama. During his visit, Secretary Buttigieg announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is now accepting applications for the first-of-its-kind Reconnecting Communities program. Created by President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the $1 billion pilot program will help reconnect communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. As the only member of Alabama’s congressional delegation to vote in favor of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Sewell fought to ensure that equity was a central focus of the legislation.
Thursday morning, Rep. Sewell hosted a roundtable discussion with Secretary Buttigieg, Mayor Woodfin, and community stakeholders to give local officials the opportunity to speak directly with federal leaders. They then embarked on a bus tour to give the Secretary a firsthand look at the Birmingham Xpress Bus Rapid Transit service, a program that will soon connect residents from 25 communities to jobs, schools, and healthcare.
“I think it’s critically important that we bring together our local and federal officials for a chance to speak directly about the needs of those we serve,” said Rep. Sewell.“Conversations like these really help strengthen our partnership on behalf of the people of the 7th Congressional District and move our communities forward.”
Rep. Sewell joined Secretary Buttigieg and Mayor Woodfin for a press conference announcing the new Reconnecting Communities Program, a $1 billion, first-of-its-kind initiative from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dedicated to reconnecting communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by highways and other transportation infrastructure. Reconnecting a community could mean adapting existing infrastructure—such as building a pedestrian walkway over or under an existing highway—to better connect neighborhoods to opportunities or better means of access such as crosswalks and redesigned intersections.
“The Reconnecting Communities program will help right the wrongs of our past by connecting neighborhoods that were previously divided by highways and other infrastructure,” continued Sewell. “This is about making sure that people can live where they want to live more affordably while accessing the jobs, schools, and services our city has to offer. I applaud Secretary Buttigieg and the entire Biden-Harris Administration for making these investments which harness the power of transportation infrastructure to connect our communities and build a more equitable future.”
"Transportation can connect us to jobs, services, and loved ones, but we‘ve also seen countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "Using funds from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are proud to announce the launch of Reconnecting Communities: the first-ever dedicated federal initiative to unify neighborhoods living with the impacts of past infrastructure choices that divided them."
Secretary Buttigieg also visited the 16th Street Baptist Church to connect with other community leaders and learn about the church’s history and role in catalyzing the Civil Rights Movement.