February 21, 2023

Maryland Congressional Members Announce $2 Million in Federal Funding to Move Forward on Removal of Highway to Nowhere

Funding comes from a program created by the lawmakers within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Kweisi Mfume, Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone (all D-Md.) announced $2 million in federal funding for Baltimore City to plan for the redevelopment of the Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore, a highway project that destroyed homes and businesses and displaced 1,500 residents at the time of its construction more than 50 years ago. The structure has divided and damaged those communities ever since. The Highway to Nowhere is in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Program, an initiative the lawmakers fought successfully to include in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The provisions in the law were modeled off of legislation authored by Senator Van Hollen and introduced as a bill by Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cardin, who championed the legislation in his role as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the Senate, and led by Congressmen Mfume, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, and Trone in the House, along with then-Congressman Anthony Brown. The program was designed specifically with the Highway to Nowhere in mind – to reconnect communities isolated and excluded from economic opportunity by past infrastructure decisions. Today’s announcement also comes after Senators Cardin and Van Hollen and Congressmen Mfume, Hoyer, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes, Brown, Raskin, and Trone wrote in October 2022 to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of Baltimore City’s grant application for the funding.

“For decades the ‘Highway to Nowhere’ in West Baltimore has divided and displaced a once-thriving community. This federal funding is a critical first step toward addressing this historical injustice by laying the groundwork to reconnect the community, revitalize neighborhoods, and boost economic opportunity,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“I applaud President Biden for making transportation equity a centerpiece of federal investments in our nation’s infrastructure,” said Senator Cardin, who served as chair of the Senate EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee during the final IIJA negotiations. “By moving forward the process of removing barriers that are no longer useful, we can help reconnect communities in Baltimore to opportunities, improve their health and safety, and make daily life better. Team Maryland has made this happen and will work together to bring greater equity and resources to Baltimore City.”

“I remember the once vibrant and connected communities that existed before the ‘Highway to Nowhere,’” said Congressman Mfume. “We seek to empower and reconnect communities to one another as a first step with this planning grant, but we also seek to connect those same communities to economic opportunities, more academic possibilities, arts and entertainment, healthy food options, safe and inviting open-space options, and so much more. It's never too late to undo the wrongs of the past if we have a clear and renewed vision for the future." 

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is putting our nation’s economy on track to thrive in the twenty-first century by investing in communities that have too often been left behind,” said Congressman Hoyer. “With these funds, we take a major step toward redeveloping Baltimore’s ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ which has divided the city — and local communities of color specifically — for decades. Infrastructure projects like these will bring communities closer together, reinvigorate local economies, and promote greater equity in the years ahead. I was proud to work with our state’s Congressional delegation to advance this project, and I look forward to continuing to support this effort going forward.”

“As we continue our push to rebuild and improve America’s aging infrastructure, we must also work to remove infrastructure that has caused more harm than good — like Baltimore’s Highway to Nowhere,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “I can’t think of a more worthy project for this type of investment, which will not only bring communities together, but will drive economic development and job creation. I am proud to have supported the legislation to make this funding possible and look forward to seeing this project finally get started." 

“We must rebuild American infrastructure equitably to expand economic opportunities for all,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “With funding through the Reconnecting Communities Program, which my colleagues and I in the Maryland Congressional Delegation worked to create in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, all communities can lift up the voices of those impacted by infrastructure decisions and advance planning studies that will strengthen and reunite neighborhoods.” 

“I’m happy to announce that funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have arrived to help reknit neighborhoods torn apart by the Highway to Nowhere,” said Rep. Raskin. “Vibrant, easily navigable cities designed to foster investment and strong community are essential to democracy. I’m thankful to President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, the Department of Transportation and my colleagues in the Maryland delegation for their efforts to bring this funding to our state.”

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver on its promise to rebuild our communities for the better and ensure every Marylander has a path to success — no matter their zip code,” said Congressman Trone. “This program, which was led by Team Maryland in Congress, will help fix long-standing inequities in our neighborhoods and drive good-paying jobs and economic opportunity in our state. Working together, we are building a brighter tomorrow for ourselves and future generations.”

“This funding is a critical step forward toward reconnecting communities, advancing economic opportunity, and improving the standard of living for the citizens of Baltimore City who have been unjustly isolated for far too long,”said Governor Wes Moore. “Investment and partnership will get the job done and we are committed to working with leadership both in Baltimore City and in Washington, D.C. to correct the injustice of 'The Highway to Nowhere' and to promote equity, mobility, and sustainable growth for generations to come.”

“This is exciting news for the City of Baltimore! We extend our sincere gratitude to U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, as well as Congressmen Kweisi Mfume, Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone for their timely and diligent efforts on this issue. Thanks to their leadership and the funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the City of Baltimore can finally begin to heal from the devastating impact of the callous and discriminatory highway project that separated communities, displaced families, and shuttered small businesses over 50 years ago. The $2 million earmarked for the demolition of the Highway to Nowhere serves as a concrete example of what it means to lead with love and empathy, instead of mere tolerance, and to prioritize equity for all of our communities,” said Mayor Brandon Scott.

In October 2022, Baltimore City requested this $2 million grant from the Reconnecting Communities Program for their proposed planning study of the removal of the Highway to Nowhere. More details on the City’s proposal, which this award funds at the requested level, are available at https://streetsofbaltimore.com/reconnecting-communities-in-west-baltimore.