U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Latest Step Toward Launching New Reconnecting Communities Institute

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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Latest Step Toward Launching New Reconnecting Communities Institute

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Contract awarded to provide technical assistance for grantees and potential grantees under the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced the award of a contract of up to $27 million to Cadmus Group, Inc. to establish and administer the Reconnecting Communities Institute (RCI or Institute). The RCI will be DOT’s center for learning on restoring and reconnecting communities that have been harmed, isolated, and cut off from opportunity by past transportation choices. The Institute will assist communities in developing and delivering reconnection projects that better connect people to jobs, education, health care, and economic opportunities being created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, particularly the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program.

“The Biden-Harris administration is making unprecedented investments to help reconnect communities that were divided by past transportation decisions, with $3.3 billion awarded across the country just a few weeks ago,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Now, with the new Reconnecting Communities Institute, we are providing communities tailored assistance to plan great locally-led transportation improvements, apply for funding, and deliver their projects.”  

The RCI will provide training and technical assistance to build organizational or community capacity in transportation planning and identify innovative strategies and solutions for reconnecting communities to jobs and economic opportunities that have previously been cut off by transportation infrastructure. The Cadmus Group brings a diverse team to RCI, with 13 partner organizations, including two national nonprofits and seven disadvantaged business enterprises. The team brings together urban planners, communications specialists, environmental justice experts, adult learning specialists, civil engineers, and subject matter experts who will be made available at no charge to participants.  The Cadmus team includes seven disadvantaged business enterprises, comprising over 20 percent of the budget. The DBEs involved include minority-owned businesses, woman-owned businesses, and small businesses. 

The Build America Bureau will manage the contractor in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration

“With this contract award, our goal is to provide the training, technical assistance and resources needed to help communities apply for grant funding and ultimately deliver successful projects through the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “With historic funding provided under the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have an opportunity to help communities invest in high quality transportation infrastructure that will improve quality of life and better connect residents for years to come.”

“The Build America Bureau is pleased to play an integral role in the Reconnecting Communities Institute,” said Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “This new program will be another tool in our growing technical assistance toolbox that will increase opportunities for communities that are seeking funding and low-cost financing options for projects that address harm from past infrastructure planning decisions, accelerate economic development, and improve access to everyday destinations.” 

Enrollment into the RCI will be open to States, local and tribal governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and nonprofit organizations. DOT will prioritize enrollment for entities serving economically disadvantaged communities, including rural and tribal communities. Many training programs and educational opportunities will be open to the public. Participants may include Reconnecting Community Pilot (RCP) program planning or capital construction grant recipients, prospective grant applicants, unsuccessful RCP program grant applicants and eligible entities otherwise interested in building organizational or community capacity in transportation planning to advance the restoration and reconnection of communities.

The RCI is expected to launch later this year. For additional information, please visit the Reconnecting Communities Institute webpage

Last year, the Department awarded $185 million to 45 communities as part of the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, including six capital construction grants and 39 planning grants. 

Last week, Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $3.33 billion in grant awards for 132 projects through the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. The funding is aimed at reconnecting communities that were cut off by transportation infrastructure decades ago, leaving entire neighborhoods without direct access to opportunity, like schools, jobs, medical offices, and places of worship.

DOT is committed to supporting projects that reconnect communities across its programs as part of its commitment to improving transportation equity and the Department's Equity Action Plan