The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the City of Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) a $2,693,160 Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) grant. The CRA applied for the grant to mitigate the barrier and impacts of Interstate 40 for seven historically African American and disinvested neighborhoods in North Memphis.

The CRA was one of 132 communities that received part of the $3.3 billion provided by the program.

The CRA will hire a team of planners, engineers, landscape architects, and local artists to assist these communities in redefining North Memphis’s relationship with I-40 and develop actionable solutions that provide a safe, vibrant experience for residents and their vision for their community. The current state of pedestrian, bicycle, and ADA connections over and under I-40 is unsafe, uninviting and/or nonexistent to the point of preventing access across the interstate without the use of a car.

I-40Because of the egregious conditions of the intersections and their significant neighborhood impacts, community-driven planning has been conducted over the last 5-10 years, and this planning grant builds on that foundation, with a focus on working out the design details and to prepare as much as possible for implementation. Important elements for consideration will include improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, reimagining perilous pedestrian bridges, and exploring measures to turn adjacent vacant lots into a network of environmentally beneficial green spaces with trails.

Andrew Murray, President of CRA, is excited to reconnect the affected neighborhoods. “The grant is a down payment of reinvestment in knitting back together the historic African American neighborhoods that were divided by the interstate and subjected to environmental harm, degradation, disinvestment, and isolation. Winning this grant is a testament to the power of community voices and the faithful determination of neighborhood residents. From the Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968, to the landmark case, Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe, Memphians have demonstrated the importance of advocating to preserve neighborhoods and protect and invest in communities. We are excited to stand on this history here in Memphis as we restore, reconnect, and reinvest.”