How infrastructure has historically promoted inequality


By Candice Norwood

April 23, 2021

It’s no secret that U.S. infrastructure is struggling. This year’s report from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country a C-, citing public roadways in “poor or mediocre” condition, “structurally deficient” bridges and aging power grids. But what has historically received less attention is the role infrastructure construction and maintenance have played in promoting inequality and racial segregation. “There is racism physically built into some of our highways,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview with the Grio this month. That recognition shaped President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan to improve U.S. infrastructure. In addition to fixing highways, bridges and roads, the proposal calls for an investment of $20 billion into communities that have historically been hurt by infrastructure projects. It would also provide $45 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines in communities like Flint, Michigan, as well as billions to expand broadband access and affordable housing options.

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