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Atlanta congresswoman announces new grant for 'The Stitch' project to cap interstate with usable space

Rep. Nikema Williams said Tuesday that project had received a $1.1 million grant from the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.

ATLANTA — An ambitious project to try and profoundly re-shape the space between Downtown and Midtown Atlanta is getting a new cash infusion.

Rep. Nikema Williams said Tuesday that "The Stitch" project had received a $1.1 million federal grant from the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.

The aim of "The Stich" is to essentially build over the I-75/85 Downtown Connector, creating a 14-acre mixed-use development on top of where there is currently just a highway.

Once completed, the project would create a continuous surface from Ted Turner Drive at the north end to Piedmont Avenue at its southern tip.

RELATED: New project aims to 'Stitch' Atlanta communities together

The project, which is still in its infancy, would cost about $700 million according to city estimates.

Part of the aim of The Stitch is to restore a portion of Atlanta that was divided up with the building of the interstate and contributed to decades of racial inequality, according to project advocates.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond told 11Alive's Joe Ripley last year that "even though the city has grown, prospered and benefited from those highways, [the interstate] has kind of damaged the travel space within the city of Atlanta."  

Rep. Williams tied that goal to the new funding.

"I authored the legislation for the Reconnecting Communities Program because infrastructure should strengthen communities–not divide them. The Downtown Connector divided the Black neighborhoods of Buttermilk Bottoms, Bedford Pines, and Sweet Auburn through the 1956 Federal Highway Act. The Stitch will take steps to reconnect parts of our communities that have been divided for far too long," she said in a statement. "I am grateful to the Biden-Harris Administration for awarding the Stitch one of the country’s first Reconnecting Pilot Program grants.” 

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens thanked Williams in a statement and said "there are historic wrongs that are being righted through projects like The Stitch to re-connect neighborhoods and build a sense of community."

Rep. Williams added in a release the latest round of funding is the second-largest grant awarded to The Stitch so far - last year it also received a $1.16 million grant through the Community Project Funding program thanks in pert to her efforts.

According to The Stitch project website, the grants have helped toward planning, design and engineering. The site lists funding sources as the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Atlanta Regional Commission, MARTA, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

How the full $700 million funding breakdown would be split is unclear.

According to 11Alive's reporting last September, construction would begin on the project in 2024-25 with a goal of completing it by 2032 at the earliest.

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