Comprehensive Infrastructure Improvements Coming to Junction and Uptown

The Truth Staff

The City of Toledo will receive a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to modernize roadway and utility infrastructure in the Junction and Uptown neighborhoods, the City’s Department of Economic Development announced this past week.

Obtained through the USDOT’s highly competitive Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program, the award will support the $52.9 million Connecting Toledo Neighborhoods to Opportunity (CTNO) project. CTNO aims to bring the neighborhoods’ infrastructure back to a state of good repair and improve roadway safety, mobility, and neighborhood quality of life.

“This is the largest discretionary grant Toledo has ever received,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur during a press conference to announce the funding. “This is going to unite all the people who have worked so hard to connect the Junction neighborhood with downtown and will correct the division caused by the construction of I 75.”

The grant, along with the funds supplied by the city, will create a pedestrian friendly suite of infrastructure improvements that will extend from the Jefferson Center in the Uptown area to the Mott Branch Library on Dorr Street.

Thirty-eight city blocks will receive improvements including the installation of new water and sanitary utilities, road construction and resurfacing, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and streetscapes. The project includes plans for the creation of a new Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) Mobility Hub and the construction of a three-quarters of a mile multi-use path on Dorr Street in the Junction neighborhood.

“People don’t live in cities, they live in neighborhoods,” said Kaptur explaining what the infrastructure improvements will mean for residents.

“This would not have happened with Congresswoman Kaptur and President Biden,” said Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz whose Department of Economic Development strove to attain the grant event after failing during the first round of applications. “You just need to know who made it happen.”

Explaining the application had initially been made in 2021 without success, the mayor noted that the team sat down with the U.S. Department of Transportation representative to learn how to improve their request so that the city can seamlessly re-connect major parts of the neighborhoods.

“The Interstate Highways of the 60s did a lot of good, but they did divide neighborhoods,” added Kapszukiewicz. “This is an example of everyone working together to lift up neighbors.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation RAISE Discretionary Grant Program is shelling out $1.5 billion to help communities around the country carry out such programs as the one Toledo has proposed.

In Toledo approximately 6.5 lane miles of roadway will be resurfaced. That will have a direct effect on the 47 percent of roads in the project area that are rated in poor condition or worse. Over 1,000 trees will be planted and a protected bile lane on 17th from Adams to Washington Street will connect directly to the Dorr Street path providing a dedicated bike lane from UpTown to Junction.

“Hard work has been done to tear down systems of inequality and to connect neighborhoods to opportunity,” said Toledo City Councilwoman Vanice Williams who represents District 4 where most of the infrastructure improvements will take place.

Williams thanked the Biden administration for “seeing the need for equality in neighborhoods and the city,” while noting that “as long as I have lived here, I haven’t seen this much investment in this neighborhood … you have to get excited by this.”

Equally excited was Alicia Smith, director of the Junction Coalition, who has been such an advocate and an activist in bringing awareness of the need to invest in that neighborhood.

“This is an opportunity to connect us back to justice, back to life, back to pride,” said Smith.