Hill District to receive one of only two federal RAISE grants in Pennsylvania – $11.3 million for rebuilding city steps and sidewalks along Centre Avenue

Transportation officials joined Pittsburgh regional leaders on Thursday, August 25, to celebrate a monumental investment in the city's Hill District neighborhood. The city will receive $11.3 million from the bipartisan infrastructure deal to make a list of improvements along Centre Avenue through one of only two federal grants in Pennsylvania from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program (RAISE).

Pictured above, Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Stephanie Pollack, said at a press conference that Pittsburgh's proposal won out over other cities partly because of the collaboration among the region's different levels of government and its private partnerships. "The way that the private sector, the city, the county, Pennsylvania D.O.T. had already laid the groundwork by creating the vision, that was one of the things that really shone in the application for this Hill District project," Pollack said.

Another key factor in Pittsburgh's successful grant application was the city's plan to invest the money in a low-income area that had historically been left out of the picture of development, Pollack said. The RAISE grant program focuses on promoting investment in neighborhoods that have historically suffered from racist federal policies that prevented residents from attaining wealth or catalyzed the displacement of a large community still waiting for its chance to rebuild.

According to the Department of Transportation, the grant will support "human-focused infrastructure investment" – seeing the city reconstructing Centre Avenue's major intersections with new pedestrian crossing amenities and transit shelters as well as trees planted along the corridor. Crews will also be constructing sidewalks in some areas where there currently are none. But Pollack stressed that the RAISE program is about more than curb ramps and new sidewalks – "it's about people," she said. "And what it will do to improve their lives every day."

Another critical project will directly benefit the tenants of the Bedford Dwellings public housing complex where the city will reconstruct the Chauncey Street city steps and install new sidewalks to lead pedestrians to the Centre Avenue business corridor.

Rev. Lee Walls, executive chair of the Christian Community Development Corporation, said the federal investment will help residents have better access to health care, employment and the cultural district saying, "Now we can continue on the road of developing our community and giving a higher quality of life to all those who live here."