Boston's Chinatown Gets Grant For Communities Impacted By I-90 Construction

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Boston's Chinatown neighborhood and the city of North Adams are getting federal grants designed for communities where opportunities have been diminished due to transportation infrastructure decisions.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced the $1.8 million grant for the Reconnecting Chinatown project, which is intended to "repair and enrich the area located between Shawmut Avenue and Washington Street." It is among 45 projects nationwide receiving a total of $185 million in grant awards.

The program was included in the federal infrastructure law and is designed to help communities overcome the negative impacts of highways and rail tracks. The first round of grants will fund construction and planning for efforts to cap interstates with parks, fill in sunken highways to reclaim the land for housing, convert transportation facilities into tree-lined streets, and create new crossings through public transportation, bridges, tunnels and trails.

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"This planning award will be used to assess the feasibility of reconnecting the Chinatown neighborhood separated by the construction of Interstate 90 in the 1960s," the federal agency said. "As a result, Boston's Chinatown now lacks access to safe and open greenspace, affordable housing, and is disproportionately impacted by traffic, and unclean air. The City of Boston will develop a plan to connect across the open-cut highway by building an open space for the community and prepare design guidelines to link the surrounding streets and facilities."

The federal government said that construction of I-90 "displaced hundreds of Chinese American families through land seizure and demolition, including removal of the thriving Hudson Street neighborhood, for the installation of a ramp and retaining wall." In the Leather District, "another thriving and historically Chinese American community, roughly 20 percent of Chinese American family homes were impacted by the construction."

North Adams also received a $750,000 grant to study the removal of a Route 2 overpass that USDOT says "constitutes a significant barrier to community connectivity." The study will "analyze the flow of traffic and multimodal access and examine potential alternatives including redesign and the elimination of the overpass, returning Route 2 to grade level."

Written by Michael P. Norton/SHNS

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