Lee, Casey, Pittsburgh Officials Hold Press Conference on $1.4 Million Infrastructure Investment “Right Wrongs of Economic Redlining” by Reconnecting North Side Communities

Infrastructure law funding will be used to begin reunification process of Manchester and Chateau neighborhood, “Righting the wrongs of economic redlining and making life in Pittsburgh easier for ALL families and small businesses.”

(PITTSBURGH, PA) – U.S. Congresswoman Summer Lee and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) hosted a press conference with Pittsburgh officials to highlight $1.4 million in federal funding for the City of Pittsburgh and Manchester Citizens Corporation from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Reconnecting Communities Pilot grant program, created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Mayor Ed Gainey, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, LaShawn Burton-Faulk, Executive Director, Manchester Citizens Corporation, Kevin Jenkins, CEO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation also spoke at the press conference. 


The press conference was held at Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s Bidwell Training Center, which lies in the shadow of the looming Route 65 highway wall. The Manchester Bidwell Corporation itself was founded right before the highway went up, and is now cut off from Manchester on the Chateau side of the wall. The facility provides underserved youth and community members vocational education such as culinary training, horticultural training, music and visual arts, and soon will open a produce center to address the food desert that exists in Manchester and Chateau while the project is completed.

The funding from the infrastructure law will fund a study on how best to reunite Manchester and Chateau neighborhoods and connect the communities to more economic opportunity while keeping those who travel on PA-65 safe and connected. 

Congresswoman Lee said, “Food and medical deserts, empty commercial corridors, and vehicle noise and pollution are residual reminders in Manchester and Chateau of this shameful disinvestment. But now, these neighborhoods are on the verge of purposeful re-investment.”

Click here to watch a full video of Congresswoman Lee’s remarks.

Click here for more photos from the event.

Transcript of Congresswoman Lee’s remarks:

Good morning! It is great to be with you all today. I am excited to join Sen. Casey, County Executive Fitzgerald, Mayor Gainey, our state elected partners, the Manchester Citizens Corporation, and our gracious hosts, Manchester Bidwell Corporation, in celebrating the recent federal award of $1.4m dollars to help reunite our Manchester and Chateau neighborhoods. 

You know, Manchester and Chateau are neighborhoods that reflect a great case study in the story of urban planning gone wrong – also known as economic redlining – a story that too often in this City’s history has profoundly and negatively impacted black and brown working class neighborhoods.

The construction of State Route 65 in the 1960s, also known as Ohio River Boulevard, which – as you can see (pause – point over shoulder) looms ominously behind us today – dramatically changed the landscape here. 

This massive highway construction literally tore Manchester, a storied and proud Black working class neighborhood, into two pieces. 

The western side of the highway became a new neighborhood named Chateau, which is quite ironic given that the roadway’s construction destroyed so many of the grand homes that gave Chateau Avenue, and this new neighborhood, its name. 

The presence of State Route 65, which literally acts like a fortified wall between communities, has caused major challenges for the neighborhoods and their residents, catalyzing commercial disinvestment, limiting pedestrian access, and further exacerbating already existing inequities due to racist, classist redlining. 

Food and medical deserts, empty commercial corridors, and vehicle noise and pollution are residual reminders in Manchester and Chateau of this shameful disinvestment. 

But now, these neighborhoods are on the verge of purposeful re-investment. With this $1.4 million federal investment and the City’s recent commitment to developing the Chateau neighborhood through the Riverfront Zoning District, commercial interest is moving past industrial uses only here, and considering more resident-focused development. But it is crucial that this development not leave the existing residents and businesses out of the conversation of restoring Manchester and Chateau.

Enter the Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot grant program, created by the recent federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, an opportunity that offered the City and Manchester Citizens Corporation the ability to receive funds from the first-ever federal program dedicated to reconnecting communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. This $1.4m award we celebrate today will allow city planners, local businesses, and most importantly the black and brown working community members who live here under the oppressive shadow of this highway, to work together on a vision for reconnecting the resident-heavy Manchester with its long lost other commercial half, Chateau, and to do so through the lens of equitable re-investment by undoing the harms of past unequitable planning. 

And it is most appropriate to situate this celebration here at the Bidwell Training Center and Drew Mathieson Greenhouse, a crucial part of the decades long work of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s mission to improve the lives of Pittsburgh’s residents through job training, youth programs and engagement with the arts. Excitingly, the Greenhouse is in the process of opening the Bidwell Urban Farm Shop, which will create a new public-facing market to sell fresh food grown by job trainees as well as local vendors, literally with doors opening toward the wall of Route 65, and ready to provide groceries and fresh produce to the residents of food insecure Manchester.

Picture it: a new, thoughtfully planned corridor of connection through or over or under a reimagined Ohio River Boulevard, allowing black and brown working families from Manchester to walk or bike easily and safely to get groceries here from local producers, or job training at the Training Center or medical help at the clinic across the street, or to enjoy future riverfront amenities and other commercial development.

Black, brown and working class communities in Pittsburgh have suffered for far too long from the legacy of redlining and disinvestment that have left many City neighborhoods isolated. This grant is one small step to beginning to right these wrongs.

I was sent to Congress to draw attention to these wrongs because our economic future depends on our building a Pittsburgh that’s livable, safe, and accessible for ALL people.

I’m proud to partner with Senator Casey to deliver federal infrastructure investments, like this Reconnecting Communities grant, that will make life better for our working families and small businesses here in Western Pennsylvania

Here’s to reuniting Manchester and Chateau, and improving the lives of our friends and neighbors.

###

Recent Posts


Apr 11, 2024
Press

Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall

For Immediate Release  April 11, 2024  Contact  Natalie Adams (Casey): 202-228-3789 Charlie Hills (Fetterman): 202-228-6099  Emilia Rowland (Lee): 330-212-2065   Zoe Bluffstone (Deluzio): 771-444-0316  Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall Additional funding follows recent flooding that closed the critical route The Members secured $142.34 million for the […]



Apr 9, 2024
Press

Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development

**For IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development PITTSBURGH, PA — Today, Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a letter with 35 colleagues to […]



Mar 28, 2024
Press

Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation 

For Immediate Release  Emilia Rowland, Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation  Lee’s bill was passed through the Science, Space, and Technology Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan basis and awaits a vote by the full House  Pittsburgh, PA — Today, Congresswoman  […]