Pennsylvania is slated to receive billions of funding from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $1 billion for the Reconnecting Communities Initiative designed to rectify damage caused by highways predominantly built through communities of color.
U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, co-sponsored the plan to help Philadelphia neighborhoods like Nicetown and Chinatown that was fractured by the Roosevelt Boulevard and Vine Street expressways. He partnered with members of the Black Congressional Caucus to lead the fight on reconnecting the communities Tuesday.
“This is an example of what you call mobility injustice — meaning that it divides the community,” Evans said in reference to the elevated Roosevelt Boulevard expressway in Nicetown.
The Nicetown Community Development Corporation’s plans to bridge the divide will be boosted by the Reconnecting Communities Initiative. The Nicetown CDC will receive $1 million from the initiative to develop a sports court beneath the elevated Roosevelt Boulevard highway. The $9 million development will include basketball courts, rain gardens, a skate park, a small amphitheater and a plaza for vendors.
“Part of what the Nicetown CDC has been doing for years is to bring connectivity to the Germantown Avenue commercial corridor — where people were displaced and businesses were displaced,” Majeedah Rashid, chief operating officer of Nicetown CDC said during a news conference held Tuesday afternoon. “We’re really grateful that the congressman has taken a look at our sports court plan and what it brings to the neighborhood of Nicetown.”
“Nicetown has been going through a lot over the years with the flight of industry, poverty, crime, murder and shootings and this is going to help us continue with our strategic planning for development and things to restore this community back to self-reliance,” Rashid continued.
“I always say we’re building block by block and that is what is taking place here, “Evans says of the plans for Nicetown. “It’s giving people a sense of hope that live in the community.”
Evans voted last Friday for the landmark infrastructure bill to create millions of jobs and make overdue repairs to the nation’s roads, bridges, transit, water and sewer systems. Pennsylvania is slated to receive $11.3 billion for roads, $1.6 billion for bridges, $2.8 billion for public transit, $1.4 billion for clean drinking water and more.
The president is expected to sign the bill next week.
Evans also voted for a House rule to clear the way to pass the Build Back Better Act in the near future.
“I’m happy to vote for this massive new investment in job-creating repairs and upgrades to our transit, roads, bridges, water, sewer and other systems,” Evans said in a news release. “And I also look forward to passage of the Build Back Better Act, which would be a historic investment in making child care, housing and prescription drugs more affordable. It would also be a historic investment in fighting climate change and would continue the Biden expansion of the Child Tax Credit that I voted for, which is on track to cut child poverty in half.”
Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Laborers’ District Council of Metropolitan Philadelphia and Vicinity and president of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council–AFL-CIO, highlighted the bill’s impact of investing in jobs.
“We have a lot of problems in Philadelphia,” he said. “The No. 1 social program is a good union job and this bill is going to provide good union jobs.”
“We’re going to have direct investments in jobs in this bill,” Boyer continued. “Whether it’s people working on highways or bridges, working on community corridors, this bill has it all.”