CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Mar. 3, 2023) – The Charlotte Department of Transportation is among the first recipients of the U.S. Department of Transportation's new Reconnecting Communities Pilot Grant Program. On Feb. 28, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that Charlotte would receive a $1 million planning grant to study the existing interchanges of Interstate 77 (I-77) and adjacent land uses at West Fifth Street and West Trade Street.
"We are thrilled to be part of the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Grant Program and to have the opportunity to build on previous planning studies aimed at addressing the disconnection of the West End from Uptown," said Charlotte Department of Transportation director Debbie Smith. "This study presents us with the opportunity to further our equitable mobility vision and remove barriers to access jobs and services, and to restore community connectivity."
This planning effort will seek to address barriers to access for Charlotte's West End, a historic Black community with significant ties to the Civil Rights Movement. The West End community was disconnected from Uptown, Charlotte's city center, by the construction of I-77 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The goal of the effort is to improve access, including safe and equitable mobility choices, and connectivity to Uptown, while balancing the goals of the community and the needs of the facility.
Charlotte is proud to partner with the Knight Foundation, a leader in the Historic West End, on this first-ever grant program to provide community benefit in the form of land reclamation, mixed-income infill development, and safe and equitable access to Uptown.
"We are excited to partner with the City of Charlotte, Historic West End Partners, and the residents of West End to reconnect the Beatties Ford Road corridor to uptown Charlotte," said Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation's Charlotte director. "We look forward to supporting the planning and engagement process. It's an important step in our effort to ensure residents are participating and benefiting from the growth of our city."
Additional funding partners include Local Initiatives Support Corporation Charlotte in partnership with Fifth Third Bank, and Wells Fargo. The commitment and desire to reconnect the West End is also reinforced through partnerships with community leaders and stakeholders including Historic West End Partners, Johnson C. Smith University, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, INLIVIAN, and Charlotte Center City Partners.
"Historic West End Partners is elated that the Knight Foundation-funded 5 Points Forward study was effective in guiding the application for the Reconnecting Communities planning grant," said J'Tanya Adams, executive director of Historic West End Partners. "We are thrilled to be a collaborative partner and look forward to advancing the goals of the community to rebuild and reclaim what was lost through freeway construction — bringing back mixed-use and mixed-income development to the community."