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COMMENTARY OF THE DAY
Voice Of America
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April 03, 2021
America’s most celebrated infrastructure initiative, the interstate highway system, rammed an elevated freeway through the center of Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans in the late 1960s. It claimed dozens of Black-owned businesses, along with oak trees and azalea bushes that had shaded Black children playing in the large neutral ground in the middle of the street, eviscerating a vibrant neighborhood whose residents fought in vain to stop the construction.
More than a half-century later, President Biden’s $2 trillion plan to rebuild aging roads, bridges, rail lines and other foundations of the economy comes with a new twist: hundreds of billions of dollars that administration officials say will help reverse long-running racial disparities in how the government builds, repairs and locates a wide range of physical infrastructure. That includes $20 billion to “reconnect” communities of color to economic opportunity, like the Black residents still living in the interstate’s shadow along Claiborne. Mr. Biden’s plan, which he unveiled on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, is the first step in a two-part agenda to remake the American economy. The president and his advisers have pitched that agenda — whose total cost could reach $4 trillion — in the grand terms of economic competitiveness and the granular language of shortened commute times.
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