San Diego/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on March 13, 2024
California Launches Highway-to-Boulevard Pilot to Reconnect Marginalized Communities in Arcata, South San Francisco, and San DiegoSource: City of San Diego

California's Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a bold initiative aimed to stitch up the social fabric torn by urban freeways. Named the Reconnecting Communities: Highways to Boulevards grant program, this pilot is set to transform lives in Arcata, South San Francisco and southeast San Diego/National City, providing new traveling options and access in areas historically marginalized by transportation divides. According to a statement from the Governor's office, the effort is a stride toward remedying a legacy of exclusion.

"California is once again leading the way to repair the shameful history of redlining and other exclusionary policies of the past," Newsom stated. The program pledges to actively promote equity, converting neglected highways that bisect neighborhoods into thriving spaces. California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin echoed these sentiments, stressing the importance to consciously unify rather than inadvertently separate, noting that transportation should serve as a connector, not a barrier. As reported by the San Diego government's official website, this announcement marks an acknowledgement of transport's dual potential.

The initiative, rooted in the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure, aspires to catalyze a shift from singular vehicular paths to inclusive, multimodal corridors. Caltrans will guide the pilot communities from conceptual phase straight to project fruition, seeking additional grant aid, including federal funds from the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program. Tony Tavares, Director of Caltrans, pointed to an unprecedented collaborative approach, ensuring that the state's transportation agency will partner closely with local groups and municipalities.

Embarking on this endeavor, Caltrans is to begin assembling partners in the chosen cities, from grassroots organizations to city planners, tasked to weave the physical and communal segments back into a cohesive whole. This is to ensure accessible transit merges seamlessly with housing, employment, and outdoor areas, enhancing community health and equality. The program promises to progressively dismantle the barriers formed by transportation infrastructure.

San Diego's Mayor Todd Gloria welcomed the state's commitment, looking forward to reinfusing life into his city's corridors, particularly through offering better transport links and essential facilities. "I thank the Governor and Legislature for their leadership in approving this funding, and I'm looking forward to working with the community to reactivate this corridor with bicycle and pedestrian connections, transit enhancements, parks and much-needed housing," Mayor Gloria affirmed.