Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday launched a nationwide project with a $1 billion price tag to unravel racial injustices caused by roadways through lower-income areas.
The pilot program, dubbed Reconnecting Communities, targets poorer Black neighborhoods divided by roadways after the interstate highway system emerged in the 1950s. Advocacy groups say the funds are not nearly enough to address the issue of racist roads.
But how do you put a price tag on being woke enough?
Though it’s uncertain how far $1 billion will go towards a coast-to-coast infrastructure project, grant applications will be accepted over the next five years. The White House says as many as 20 communities will be assisted by the project. The list of possible improvements is impressive.
Buttigieg’s program includes rapid bus transit lines connecting residents in underserved areas to jobs, green spaces built onto caps over highways, bike lanes, walkways, and even removing parts of highways.
The program is supposed to award $195 million in competitive grants this year, and $50 million of that total is earmarked for communities to conduct “planning studies.” That’s a considerable sum for “planning.”
Buttigieg went on the record last year with assertions that racism is “built into” roads. He cited underpasses built as long as a century ago in New York that some radicals claim were intentionally too low to allow buses to reach the beach. Buses carrying minority kids.
Which is, for the record, a tall tale now debunked by none other than the liberal Washington Post.
The Biden administration originally sought $20 billion for the pilot project.
Supporters, besides Buttigieg and road planners, include the Boston-based Freeway Fighter’s Network. Organizers credit the Biden administration for taking the transformation of racist roads into “mainstream thinking.”
Opponents, including Republicans and nearly everyone not in the road planning business, charge the program is a woke boondoggle. Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned trees being planted by the project and that some say “highways are racially discriminatory.”
DeSantis added, “I don’t know how a road can be that.”
The Biden administration and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg does, and at this point that’s what’s important. Remember, “Mayor Pete’s” downfall in the runup to the 2020 Democratic president primary was his utter lack of appeal to minority voters.