Release Date: March 1,2023
City of Akron Receives $960,000 Reconnecting Communities Pilot Grant
Akron will use the funds to create a master plan for the vacated Innerbelt
Akron, Ohio, March 1, 2023 — Yesterday, the Biden administration announced a historic $185 million in grant awards for 45 projects through the new Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, a first-of-its-kind initiative to reconnect communities that are cut off from opportunity and burdened by past transportation infrastructure decisions. The City of Akron was awarded $960,000 to create a community-based master plan to guide the transformation of a vacated mile-long section of Akron's Innerbelt.
“I’m incredibly proud to receive these funds as part of the very competitive Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program and I thank the Biden administration for this opportunity,” said Mayor Horrigan. “The work that our Innerbelt Advisory group has done over the past two years is really laying the foundation for the Innerbelt’s future. We’ve been working hand in hand with the community, engaging them on what they envision as the best use for this land, and we’re excited to use this funding to look at short- and long-term strategies to address the challenges posed by the Innerbelt.”
"Transportation should connect, not divide, people and communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We are proud to announce the first grantees of our Reconnecting Communities Program, which will unite neighborhoods, ensure the future is better than the past, and provide Americans with better access to jobs, health care, groceries and other essentials.”
Sometimes referred to as Akron’s “Road to Nowhere,” the Innerbelt (State Route 59) was never fully completed, never saw the traffic counts predicted for it, and, like many of urban renewal projects from the 1970’s, its promises of revitalization never materialized for Akron and its residents. Over the past decade, the city of Akron has come to recognize that this road is a disruptive element in the physical and social fabric of the city. In 2017, the City took action to remedy this mistake by closing and decommissioning a one-mile section of the highway, with the goal of healing the scar left by the highway and putting this land to better use.
The master plan will identify interventions that can be immediately implemented to have positive impacts on residents’ lives. It will also look at longer-term opportunities to re-purpose this land to improve the future resilience and vitality of the city. The City hopes to get a more detailed look at how the existing infrastructure (streets, ramps, bridges), topography, and land use could be altered and leveraged to create a usable space that could be an asset for all of Akron.
Learn more about the Innerbelt Advisory group and how to get involved at www.akroninnerbelt.com.
Check out the recently launched Innerbelt History Collection for audio recordings, video recordings, photographs and maps relating to the history of the neighborhood that was displaced by the Innerbelt at the Summit Memory website here.