By Corinne Murdock |
The Biden administration gave the city of Tucson $900,000 to build a biking and pedestrian bridge. The city’s initiative is one of 45 projects nationwide to receive a portion of $185 million in funds, the only one in Arizona to receive this round of funds.
The bridge would provide a pathway over the I-19 highway to Nebraska Street, as part of the Atravessando Comunidades Project. The funds will cover approximately 56 percent of the total project cost: $1.6 million in total.
The funds come from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds allocated to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Reconnecting Communities Program (RCP). In a press release issued on Tuesday, the DOT revealed that it prioritized projects it perceived as benefiting economically disadvantaged communities, as well as engaging in equity and environmental justice. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assisted DOT in selecting which projects should get federal funding.
10 other Arizona cities, counties, and one nonprofit were denied the IRS funds.
The city of Winslow petitioned for $377,200 for a transportation study on railway-created barriers to mitigate lack of access and opportunities for impacted communities; the city of Eloy petitioned for $400,000 to plan for the revitalization of the Sunland Gin Corridor; Apache County petitioned for $1.28 million to reconstruct Stanford Drive (County Road 8235); Native Promise, a tribal advocacy nonprofit, petitioned for over $1.75 million to reconnect Navajo relocatees through the Pinta Project; the city of Buckeye petitioned for $420,000 for an overpass at Durango Street, over $1 million for road and bridge construction along Watson Road, and $724,000 to plan for Rooks Road and Baseline Road; the city of Bullhead petitioned for $1.6 million to improve a multimodal parkway; the city of Phoenix petitioned for over $5 million for a “cultural corridor”; the city of Kingman petitioned for over $40.8 million for a Rancho Santa Fe Parkway traffic interchange; and the city of Eloy petitioned for over $24.3 million for Sunland Gin Corridor construction.
The DOT explained that Tucson received the funding because of the project’s focus on equity. The project description stated that the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods of South Tucson were cut off from the Santa Cruz River and the rest of Tucson by the I-19 highway in the early 1960s. The DOT claimed that these neighborhoods experienced over 60 years of air and noise pollution, surviving a food desert, and struggling from more limited economic opportunities.
This isn’t the first round of funding Tucson has received for a bridge. The Biden administration awarded the city $25 million to rebuild the 22nd Street bridge last August.
Last August, Buttigieg used the city of Tucson as the location for his major reveal of $25 million in funding through Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants. At the time, Buttigieg also cited equity as a reason for choosing Tucson as the recipient of these exclusive funds.
“It’s also important from an equity perspective because it connects the downtown Tucson and the communities and opportunities there to historically underinvested in communities to the east,” said Buttigieg.
Phoenix also received RAISE grants last year: $25 million for a bridge over the Rio Salado river connecting downtown Phoenix and South Phoenix, spanning along the river from Central Avenue to State Route 143 near the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.