Exciting news from Baltimore City Department of Transportation!

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressman Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) announced $6,000,000 for Baltimore City’s Restoring Connections to Druid Hill Park Project. This federal funding will support redesign planning for Druid Park Lake Drive in order to reconnect West Baltimore communities cut off from Druid Hill Park following the widening of the roadway over 60 years ago. The planning process will also evaluate safety and accessibility enhancements to benefit all road users and incorporate ways to accentuate the history of the Park – the third oldest public park in the country.

The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and provided through the Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) Grant Program, which the lawmakers worked to create and fund through the Inflation Reduction Act. Today’s announcement comes after the lawmakers wrote in November to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of Baltimore City’s grant application for the funding.

“Ever since Druid Park Lake Drive was widened decades ago – against the wishes of local communities – the roadway stood as a barrier between the historic Druid Hill Park and nearby neighborhoods. Through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we secured funding to confront and correct harmful infrastructure decisions of the past – like this one. With this federal investment, Baltimore City can begin to right this wrong, improving safety along the road while restoring more local access to the treasured Druid Hill Park,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Druid Hill Park is a long-standing center for recreation and open space in Baltimore, but for too long, the historically Black communities living right next door have been cut off from this signature park by an imposing roadway that favors high-speed traffic over local residents,” said Senator Cardin. “This federal funding will support the planning needed to restore connectivity and equitable access to Baltimore’s community parks, and it is part of the Biden Administration’s larger effort to address the disenfranchisement and systemic isolation of Black communities resulting from past infrastructure decisions and projects.”

“The $6 million dollar Reconnecting Communities grant will return power to the people impacted by prior and bad transportation decisions that have split communities in half. We will see an improved and unified Druid Park Lake Drive as a result of this federal money,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume.

“I want to thank Senator Van Hollen, Senator Cardin, and Congressman Mfume for continuing to champion transportation projects in Baltimore City,” said Baltimore City Mayor Brandon. M Scott. “In order to overcome the purposeful, historic disinvestment in infrastructure in Baltimore City, it takes the coordinated efforts of leaders at the local, state, and federal level as well as engagement with our community stakeholders. As the third-oldest public park in the nation, the reshaping of Baltimore’s Druid Hill to make it more accessible, open, and welcoming to every Baltimorean is well-deserved and long-overdue. Baltimore City is on the precipice of a renaissance and it is funding like this that further catalyzes that momentum.”

Druid Park Lake Drive is a 2.3 mile arterial roadway in Baltimore that divides several majority-Black communities from Druid Hill Park, a 745-acre site with the distinction of being one of the oldest public parks in the United States. Originally a two-lane residential street, Druid Park Lake Drive was widened in spite of community opposition between 1948 and 1963 to facilitate faster travel to and from the Baltimore suburbs. The result is the current, highway-sized roadway with limited crossings that cuts off local communities from the park – neighborhoods such as Auchentoroly Terrace, Reservoir Hill, Penn North, and Woodbrook.

With this $6,000,000 in federal funding, Baltimore City aims to provide the surrounding streets with a renewed sense of connectedness to Druid Hill Park through calmer traffic, increased tree canopy, and safety-oriented design elements to make the road safer for all users – including cyclists, pedestrians, transit passengers, and people using mobility devices. Planning is also intended to embrace and reclaim the historic relevance of the area while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing boulevard enhancement.

This award is one of six federal grants totaling more than $11 million that the lawmakers are announcing for Maryland to address infrastructure that has divided communities in our state. The awards are funded by both the NAE Program and DOT’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) Program – an initiative the lawmakers fought successfully to include in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The RCP provisions in the infrastructure law were modeled off of legislation authored by Senator Van Hollen and introduced as a bill by Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cardin. Cardin championed the legislation in his role as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the Senate, and led in part by Congressman Mfume in the House. Last year, the lawmakers secured $2 million from the RCP Program for Baltimore City to plan for the redevelopment of the Highway to Nowhere.

Learn more about the project and sign up for updates here: https://streetsofbaltimore.com/druidpark