The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) was awarded $1.6 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation Reconnecting Communities Grant to help connect the South Park neighborhood.
South Park has historically been a home to immigrants and 74% of the neighborhood’s BIPOC residents are in the 99th percentile for negative health outcomes and socioeconomic disadvantages.
The grant is a part of the new Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, an initiative to reconnect communities cut off from opportunities and burdened by past infrastructure decisions. The grant provided $185 million to 45 projects across the nation.
The program plays a role in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides technical assistance and funding for communities’ planning and construction programs to connect neighborhoods together by removing barriers such as highways and railroad tracks.
With the grant, SDOT will invest in reconnecting South Park. The overall project will cost around $2.8 million and will be used to support technical studies and community visioning for removing and restructuring SR-99 in the neighborhood.
SR-99 is described as a dark, narrow, 1.5-mile underpass dividing the neighborhood. The highway limits access to jobs, healthcare, and opportunity, creating one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the region.
The study will examine the removal of SR-99 to accommodate local travel and improve accessibility. It will consider nature-based resilience strategies to address heat and flooding issues.
A neighborhood-based coalition comprising more than 12 community organizations will lead the community development process and help develop the Community Vision Plan. An advisory team, including representatives from the neighborhood, will be formed along with funding support from the City of Seattle and WSDOT.