The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is now investigating whether the I-45 expansion project violates civil rights. Federal investigators came to Houston to meet with impacted community members.
“We just want fairness. That’s what we want, fairness,” said U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. The representative organized a town hall with federal investigators and community groups.
“We want the best quality transportation we can get -- safe and secure, but respectful of long term residents, the history and the health of the environment of the business quality,” said Jackson Lee.
Pending the results of the investigation, TxDOT's I-45 expansion remains on pause. The pause includes solicitations, negotiations and eminent domain, and final design activities. (Read the letter)
“They will not stop the investigation until they turn over every single aspect of what is harming this community,” Jackson Lee said.
Mayor Turner on NHHIP at TAG State of Mobility (Runtime: 6 minutes)
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke on the North Houston Highway Improvement Project:
“We must always make sure that our roadways serve our city, not dominate it.”
Turner outlined his vision and demanded a project with local support:
“We must keep our vision in mind: Houston is a destination city, Houston is a multi-modal city, and Houston is not just a city of roads. And the way we have done things in the past, over the decades, will not represent the future of our city. This is a different time and we must do things differently.
“I want the I-45 project to move forward. Let there be no mistake about it: I want it to be built. I believe it can be transformational. But it must be done in collaboration — in partnership — with Houston and Harris County, and not without their support.”
Turner summarized his asks:
“The project that exists today is outdated and it needs to be significantly enhanced,
but it has to be done in such a way to recognize the importance of our parks and our green space, and even build more;
it has to be done in mitigating the risk of flooding;
it has to be done in such a way that connects our communities and not further divide them;
it has to be done in such a way that doesn't take more than that what's required and fixes the significant damage to Independence Heights of our community;
and it has to be done in such a way that people who are displaced — that they are displaced but they are taken care of at the same time.”
County Judge Lina Hidalgo delivered the news:
“Today we're taking action to help elevate voices in our community that have been set aside for too long. For too long, transportation policy in our region has been stuck in the '50s. For a generation, we've gone on just building more lanes, putting down more concrete, thinking that somehow magically that's going to reduce traffic and that's going to make us more competitive. All the while what we've done is created more flooding problems, exacerbated instead of solving traffic, and built bigger and wider highways while turning into one of the last urban areas worldwide without a comprehensive public transportation system. We cannot continue to support transportation policy that prioritizes cars over people.
“We can build a highway that respects communities, that respects the need to prepare for the future, that respects children, that includes within it significant investment for transit options. We can prepare for the challenges of the future rather than being stuck in a transportation model that the rest of the country, and frankly the rest of the world, outgrew decades ago.”
(English speech runtime: 7 minutes, followed by a reading in Spanish, then comments by County Attorney Christian Menefee, then comments by Commissioner Rodney Ellis, then Q&A)
For legal documents, please visit our Documents page.
This project will displace:
• 168 single family homes
• 1,067 multi-family homes, which include
◦ 368 low-income units
◦ 60 homeless veterans’ units
The TxDOT project will displace 331 businesses, which employ 24,873 people.
Air quality has an impact on public health. Children living or attending school near freeways like I-45 are at risk of damage to their developing brain, lungs, heart, and circulatory systems. Furthermore, a number of traffic-related air pollutants – such as diesel particulate matter, benzene, 1,3 butadiene, and formaldehyde – are known to cause cancer.
TxDOT has designed the highway only for 100-year flood events (storms that theoretically have a 1 percent chance of occurring in a given year), not the tougher 500-year standard required of all other projects in Harris County and the City of Houston. More concrete and more lanes mean less water being absorbed. TxDOT should mitigate its flooding impact and design for the storms we know are coming.
Although not fully funded to-date, the North Houston Highway Improvement Project is estimated to cost $7-10 billion (exclusive of right-of-way purchases) to expand 25 miles of highway over a 10-year period. This road will increase the cost of road maintenance. Because TxDOT relies on debt to build these projects, our children and grandchildren will be paying for it.
According to TxDOT’s May 2017 Schematics, Bayou Greenway and parks impacts will mean we lose 27 acres of current open space.
Change column placement to mitigate specific impacts to parks and open space.
Creating a greenway trail along Little White Oak Bayou will improve connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists. The greenway should connect Acres Homes to Freed Art & Nature Park and the existing White Oak Bayou Greenway.
Recognize that the City of Houston (COH) code was updated after Harvey to remove the clause that grandfathers existing pavement from mitigation requirement. It requires mitigation for the entire project, not just the net pavement being added. TxDOT should build to these new COH code requirements.
This will improve access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders using bridges which cross the reconstructed I-45. TxDOT must provide safe pedestrian-bicycle connections where traffic coming off the freeway meets city streets. In other areas, TxDOT must make sure surface street connectivity is not impaired.
If highway funding is used to build mass transit instead of expanding urban freeways, Houstonians will be able to travel more miles with greater safety.