March 10, 2023 - When the I-45 expansion in Houston is finished, the highway that funnels suburban commuters to downtown will run through the backyard that Steph Valdez’s nieces and nephews now play in.
March 8, 2023 - As the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) pushes forward with a controversial highway expansion, displaced residents feel unsupported.
March 7, 2023 - The hotly-debated I-45 expansion project has received the green light to move forward after the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration reached an agreement, the latter agency announced Tuesday.
March 7, 2023 - Nearly two years to the day that federal officials paused TxDOT’s plans for rebuilding Interstate 45 and downtown Houston’s freeway system, national and state highway leaders have come to an agreement that will let the rebuild proceed, but with several concessions aimed at addressing the project’s impacts on low-income and minority neighborhoods.
March 7, 2023 - A controversial project to widen I-45 between Beltway 8 and downtown Houston took a major step forward March 7 when the Federal Highway Administration announced it had reached a voluntary agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation on how to move forward.
March 7, 2023 - Federal authorities announced Tuesday they have lifted their hold of a more than $9 billion Houston area highway-widening project that has come under intense criticism from residents and activists who have argued the proposal would cause lasting economic and environmental damage to their communities.
March 7, 2023 - The agreement between state and federal transportation leaders will allow the North Houston Highway Improvement Project to move forward while addressing the expansion’s impacts on surrounding communities.
March 3, 2023 - Local advocates have launched a petition drive aimed at increasing the city's voice on the Houston-Galveston Area Council, a 13-county regional planning council that has been criticized by Houston leaders for what they consider unfair federal fund allocation.
March 3, 2023 - 2022 was a historic year for the nationwide movement to reconnect communities divided by highways, but successes on the national stage have not yet translated into conclusive victories at the local level.
March 2, 2023 - Drivers on Houston freeways likely can relate: Facing a slowdown when it comes to rebuilding Interstate 45, state transportation leaders are shifting gears and changing lanes.
February 10, 2023 - The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is pushing forward with an $85 billion, decade-long plan to expand the state’s highway system, despite widespread opposition and even a federal lawsuit.
February 1, 2023 - Rose Childress recalls the racism and continuing health risks entwined with the roadways around her.
January 12, 2023 - Houston, Harris County and the Texas Department of Transportation have an agreed path forward for rebuilding Interstate 45, and a lot of steps to get there.
December 22, 2022 - After years of public input and a county lawsuit, the agreements were heralded as a breakthrough but the process itself is disheartening.
December 19, 2022 - Local leaders said although the project isn’t perfect, it is better than it was before negotiations with TXDOT over the past year and half.
December 16, 2022 - If designated a park, the greenspace could change the plans of the state's transportation department.
November 21, 2022 - A Houston City Council member is resurrecting a push to designate White Oak Bayou near downtown as a city park — all in an effort to derail the controversial Interstate 45 expansion project.
October 18, 2022
October 15, 2022 - Advocates say constructing highways through Black neighborhoods isn’t a thing of the past.
September 21, 2022
September 20, 2022 - A prominent downtown business organization wants to add $750 million of amenities to the embattled North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP), according to plans shared exclusively with Axios Houston.
September 8, 2022 - A ring of 1960s-era highways encircles downtown Houston, dividing nearby neighborhoods along racial lines and separating them from the city’s urban core.
September 2, 2022 - A group protesting the planned expansion of Interstate 45 on Friday night accused the Texas Department of Transportation of ignoring the city of Houston and acting in bad faith after the agency restarted its demolition of an apartment complex near Minute Maid Ballpark.
August 31, 2022 - A contingent of Houston-area residents traveled to Austin this week to voice opposition to the I-45 expansion project, which is largely on hold while the Federal Highway Administration investigates civil rights and environmental concerns.
August 22, 2022
August 5, 2022 - The “neighborhood access and equity grants” would supplement earlier funding in the infrastructure law and could go towards a range of projects. About a third of the money is earmarked for lower-income areas.
August 4, 2022
July 29, 2022
July 28, 2022
July 27, 2022 - The state department of transportation says many of its highway projects have “no significant impact.”
July 3, 2022
June 22, 2022 - On Wednesday, the Houston Permitting Center announced it would temporarily withhold demolition permits from the department.
June 21, 2022 - The Texas Dept. of Transportation's plan to expand I-45 through downtown may be paused for a federal review, but TxDOT says they will be moving forward with the demolition of the Lofts at the Ballpark Apartments.
June 21, 2022 - Community activists and U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee separately denounced the slated demolition of nearly 400 housing units near Minute Maid Park for the Texas Department of Transportation’s expansion of Interstate 45.
April 29, 2022 - Texas, with its wide-laned roads and supersized highways, seems like an unlikely place for a rebellion against the supremacy of American car culture.
April 20, 2022 - Opponents of highway projects in five of the state’s largest cities showed up en masse for the monthly Texas Transportation Commission meeting in Austin Wednesday, calling on officials to rethink, and perhaps narrow, designs for some of the state’s biggest freeway expansions.
March 30, 2022 - Typically, $750 million is the total cost for a major highway project, one that would take years to spend that kind of money.
March 26, 2022 - Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman’s dual roles as a member of the Houston region’s transportation planning board and consultant at an engineering company will not receive further scrutiny by the local board after staff concluded the panel cannot police its own ethics policies.
February 23, 2022 - A $9 billion highway expansion project is threatening to disrupt communities of color in Texas.
December 27, 2021
December 22, 2021 - The Texas Department of Transportation is allegedly threatening retaliation against the whole Houston region because advocates continue to fight a highway expansion that the agency knows will have a harmful impacts on communities of color — but if the advocates successfully get the initiative shut down, it could be a model for other communities fighting bad road projects of their own.
December 16, 2021
December 6, 2021 - “We just want fairness. That’s what we want, fairness,” said U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, (D) Texas 18th District.
December 1, 2021
November 29, 2021 - A contentious fight to stop the planned expansion of Interstate 45 through Houston has grown to draw a Fort Bend County elected official into its orbit.
November 24, 2021 - A $9 billion highway widening project being proposed in the Houston area could become an important test of the Biden administration’s commitment to addressing what it has said is a history of racial inequity with infrastructure projects in the U.S.
November 19, 2021 - Houston activists fuel a growing movement to increasingly center environmental justice in infrastructure and protect urban neighborhoods from endlessly expanding road projects.
November 11, 2021 - Fifty years ago, Cooper’s predominantly Black neighborhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward was devastated to build the freeway. Now, another cycle of dislocation looms.
October 20, 2021 - Members organizing against the highway expansion say the 'expensive' sit-down between TAG and TxDOT leaders locks out everyday people from matters of public import.
October 19, 2021
October 2, 2021
October 1, 2021
September 28, 2021 - U.S. transportation authorities have spent billions widening urban freeways to fight traffic delays. What makes the “iron law of congestion” so hard to defeat?
August 31, 2021 - The Texas Transportation Commission voted to move forward with the project, but an ongoing federal investigation may force a permanent halt later this year.
August 27, 2021
August 18, 2021
August 9, 2021 - The controversial expansion project, which opponents say would displace hundreds of families and worsen air quality, will make its way to the Texas Transportation Commission for approval.
August 7, 2021 - Houston's icon hosted a get-out-the-word event at his Gallery Furniture store off the North Freeway.
August 3, 2021 - The Greater Houston Partnership spent about $10,000 on social media advertisements in support of the controversial project last month.
July 29, 2021 - The fate of a $9 billion highway construction project – along with whether or not more than 1,000 Houstonians' homes will be demolished – could be decided by the results of an online Survey Monkey poll after years of developing plans.
July 28, 2021
July 12, 2021 - The Texas Department of Transportation intends to spend $25 billion widening highways to fix traffic in Texas cities. What if we tore them down instead?
June 23, 2021
May 31, 2021 - A highway expansion project in Houston is the site of a battle over environmental justice.
May 23, 2021
May 11, 2021 - The Biden-Harris Administration can strike a grand bargain on transportation. Here’s how to do it.
April 30, 2021 - The Biden administration’s Federal Highway Administration has asked TxDOT for a “pause” so that possible violations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act can be reviewed.
April 21, 2021
April 17, 2021
April 6, 2021 - After the U.S. Department of Transportation asked the Texas DOT to halt a highway expansion, freeway fighters nationwide are calling on Secretary Pete Buttigieg for similar aid.
April 1, 2021 - The department’s use of civil rights laws has buoyed activists on the ground and surprised even seasoned regulators in Washington.
April 1, 2021 - It’s a $7 billion fight with the neighbors as the area surrounding Harris County and the city of Houston voted last week to tell the Texas Department of Transportation to go full steam ahead with a massive, and long desired, expansion of Interstate 45 despite reasonable and strong opposition.
March 31, 2021
March 30, 2021 - Residents of Houston and elected officials have been trying to stop the largest urban highway project of their lifetimes.
March 29, 2021 - When Modesti Cooper returned home to Houston in July 2019 after more than a decade overseas with the United States military, she moved into her dream house on the corner of Nance and Grove streets in Houston’s Fifth Ward.
March 26, 2021 - For the second time in three months, Houston-area politicians and transportation leaders attempted to come to an agreement on the terms of the planned $7 billion overhaul of I-45 through downtown Houston and much of the city’s north side.
March 26, 2021 - Regional transportation officials on Friday reaffirmed their support for a planned $7 billion widening of Interstate 45 in Houston, over strong objections from city and Harris County officials that the resolution passed was a toothless enabling of design plans that continue to divide neighbors, elected officials and various interest groups.
March 12, 2021 - One of Texas’s most-notorious highway expansion projects is being put on pause, thanks to the efforts of local advocates and a U.S. Department of Transportation that’s newly committed to mitigating the racist impacts of federally funded transportation projects.
March 11, 2021 - Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee made a demand Thursday for TxDOT to take residents and the environment into consideration in the agency’s plan to expand Interstate 45.
March 11, 2021 - “TxDOT has brought this upon themselves,” said Michael Skelly, an organizer of the Make I-45 Better Coalition. “For many years, organizations and individuals from across the city have been making suggestions to TxDOT that would improve the project, reduce flooding, save taxpayers money, minimize displacement and enhance safety. TxDOT has ignored everyone. When TxDOT looks for who to blame, the mirror would be a good place to start.”
March 4, 2021 - The 19th Secretary of Transportation may be the first in recent memory to publicly recognize that the need to remove excess asphalt from cities to meet our climate, safety and mobility justice goals — and that the DOT could play a role in right-sizing our road and parking networks.
February 18, 2021
February 5, 2021 - The Texas Department of Transportation has given itself approval to move into the next phase of a $7.5 billion proposal to rebuild Interstate 45 in downtown Houston, despite community concerns that the highway expansion’s disadvantages outweigh its proposed benefits.
February 4, 2021 - Texas highway officials Thursday gave themselves the green light to rebuild Interstate 45 in Houston, a crucial step in the process, despite lingering concerns from critics that the proposed $7.5 billion widening project is out of step with the region's future needs.
February 2, 2021 - A $600 million down payment on making Texas roadways safer is coming to an end, as highway officials pivot to putting potentially life-saving projects back in the same pile as congestion relief and other priorities.
February 1, 2021 - A new Senate bill includes a $10 billion program aimed at cities that are considering removing urban freeways and repairing the damage these projects inflicted on vulnerable communities decades ago.
January/February, 2021 - The Houston-Galveston Area Council maintains something called the Regional Travel Demand Model... The model asserts that it knows where people in that neighborhood will work, where they will eat, where they will shop, and where their friends will live in 2045.
January 29, 2021 - A proposed agreement devised to bring planners and critics of a massive redesign of Interstate 45 together has left officials in many ways further apart and opponents with a chance to convince more people the $8 billion project is stuck in the past.
January 27, 2021 - The four-person leadership of the Houston area’s regional mobility council will stay virtually the same for 2021, after suburban officials substituted two key positions.
January 25, 2021 - A monthslong process to reach an understanding between regional leaders and the Texas Department of Transportation about objectives of the I-45 project stalled Jan. 22.
January 24, 2021 - What does cancer treatment have to do with fighting climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and neighborhood-level urban planning? Taking preventive steps today can literally save us all tomorrow.
January 13, 2021 - A proposed highway expansion threatens to disproportionately displace communities of colour, but Biden’s infrastructure plans could change that.
January 4, 2021 - Chris Sonnier spends his nights sleeping in a grey tent underneath Interstate 59 on the northern edge of downtown when he isn’t crashing at his uncle’s place in the Kelly Village public housing project in Fifth Ward.
December 22, 2020 - President-elect Biden’s pathbreaking pick for Transportation Secretary says he’ll reverse decades of discriminatory planning by expanding public transit and, most important, dismantling urban freeways that were built to destroy Black communities and led to decades of health and wealth inequity.
December 11, 2020 - “TxDOT started with a highway mission and, unfortunately according to my constituents, you have not changed this focus and appear not to want to change,” Jackson Lee wrote.
December 8, 2020 - The proposed expansion of Interstate 45 was met with a chorus of questions Tuesday, as a public comment period for suggestions to an environmental impact study comes to an end.
December 6, 2020 - “They want to continue to do the same old, same old, but that dog won’t hunt,” Commissioner Garcia said of TxDOT’s plan. “We need to make sure they understand it is about the future, not what used to be.”
November 27, 2020 - Despite years of input from us already, the final impact assessment presents a very similar project to what they first proposed in 2017.
October 30, 2020 - “We've all been together since we were kids, and with this expansion coming up, I don't know what's going to happen,” said resident Sean Jefferson Jr. “I don't know where we're going to go.”
October 28, 2020 - Feedback now is due Dec. 9, after which TxDOT can prepare the project for its final environmental clearance under federal guidelines.
October 22, 2020
October 19, 2020 - No one has explained how a project that TxDOT claims will lead to 100 percent more freeway vehicle miles traveled—more driving—and increased average speeds of up to 24 miles per hour—faster driving—is compatible with Vision Zero.
October 9, 2020
September 25, 2020
September 3, 2020 - “We're here today to tell the Houston-Galveston Area Council, to tell the Houston City Council, to tell TxDOT we don't want this project,” said ‘Stop TxDOT I-45’ organizer Molly Cook.
August 24, 2020 - For the last 70 years, American transportation planners have been using the same model to decide what to build. There’s just one problem: it’s often wrong.
August 17, 2020 - A federal highways to boulevards program will not be a silver bullet for community restoration, but it would begin to address many of the underlying inequalities in the built environment brought to public attention by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing and increasingly public police violence against Black Americans.
July 26, 2020 - “This proposal is inequitable and unacceptable,” said Jonathan Brooks, director of policy and planning for LINK Houston.
June 19, 2020 - “I find this project disgusting and I cannot in good conscience support a vote … until all parties involved reckon with the damage they are going to inflict,” said Oni Blair, a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee and executive director of LINK Houston.
June 8, 2020 - The construction of America’s downtown highways destroyed thousands of black neighborhoods during the height of the urban renewal era in the 1940s and ’50s — and a new impact study of a controversial highway project in Houston serves as a reminder that the racist policy never ended.
June 4, 2020
June 3, 2020 - Demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in the Twin Cities occupied a major artery that tore apart a thriving African-American neighborhood.
May 10, 2020 - The Chronicle's editorial board calls for dedicated bus lanes, reduced displacement, and a project that will help, not harm, the environment.
May 1, 2020 - All eyes in Texas are on the coronavirus and the state government's response to it. But some of the biggest state agencies are still doing what they always do, like building highways and debating oil and gas regulations.
April 24, 2020 - The city of Houston is prepared to ask for major changes in state plans to rebuild Interstate 45 that potentially could scale back the planned widening of the freeway and put a greater focus on transit lanes than making room for more cars.
March 11, 2020 - Adding lanes for “traffic relief” remains politically popular. But in Houston and Portland, highway expansions are facing an energized — and effective — local resistance.
March 5, 2020 - “Those who live, work and drive in the Houston area are painfully familiar with the futility of the highway-widening solution.”
February 24, 2020 - Monday marks the first time traffic-clogged Houston has a transportation planner, a position officials said will coordinate mobility issues around the city.
January 28, 2020 - On Tuesday, dozens of protesters addressed city council to increase political pressure against the expansion.
January 21, 2020 - A new survey of mayors finds a big disconnect between what mayors want in terms of street design and what they’re actually willing to support to make it happen.
January 17, 2020 - Bike lanes and transit are important, yes. But keeping car trips short is also a major factor in Streetlight Data’s U.S. Transportation Climate Impact Index.
January 17, 2020 - Transportation is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but the worst offenders aren't congested cities like New York and San Francisco. Instead, it's sprawling, car-dependent metros like Dallas and Houston, a new analysis finds.
January 8, 2020 - Shifting transportation priorities in Texas will phase out expansive road development in the near future, Gov. Greg Abbott predicted Wednesday in a speech to the Rotary Club of San Antonio.
December 25, 2019
December 17, 2019
December 17, 2019 - Where will the traffic go? Who owns the land? All this and more was discussed at a happy hour panel at the D Magazine offices.
October 31, 2019 - After months of not speaking, TxDOT and the city unveil their plans for a critical stretch of Interstate 30. This is what can happen when a city stands up for itself!
October 20, 2019 - This city’s south side was devastated when a highway section went up. Now that there’s talk of taking it down, residents think they should be protected — and compensated.
October 11, 2019 - Historic black neighborhoods like Independence Heights and the Fifth Ward are in the crosshairs of Houston highway plans, decades after expressways separated communities from the rest of the city.
September 26, 2019 - “We’d rather see the freeway flood than the homes.” - Rebecca Reyna, executive director of the Greater Northside Management District
September 25, 2019 - Taking a cursory look at two radically different transportation plans for Houston, TX shows how the default position of federal transportation policy is to increase driving.
September 16, 2019 - Strong Towns offers a look into the playbook civil engineers use to thwart public will and ruin public places.
September 6, 2019 - “Here’s how to make I-45 better: first, fix the parts that need repair, without making them any wider. At the same time, introduce congestion-based pricing on the entire roadway to maximize its capacity around the clock. Invest the proceeds in transit, biking, walking, and in those poor people who truly have no choice but to keep driving.”
September 3, 2019 - Urban traffic congestion is growing dramatically, according to a new report. So why aren’t drivers taking longer to get to work?
August 21, 2019 - There are ways to solve congestion that don't involve adding onto freeways.
July 30, 2019 - A new working paper on the 'freeway revolts' of yesteryear sheds light on what's at stake locally in the latest highway project.
July 26, 2019 - “Mattress Mack, Judge Lina Hidalgo join dozens in protest of I-45 expansion funding”
July 26, 2019 - “...the go-ahead from the H-GAC Transportation Policy Council fell well short of full-throated support.”
July 24, 2019 - As TxDOT’s plan to revamp I-45 moves forward, some concerned citizens are pushing back.
July 23, 2019 - “After the approval of $100 million towards the project, community activists say the current I-45 plan generates too much pain for mostly poor, mostly minority Houstonians.”
July 23, 2019 - Community leaders gathered in front of Bruce Elementary School to request regional leaders to delay vote on $100 million down payment for I-45 expansion.
July 13, 2019 - Recommendations include: build a fast regional transit system, optimize lanes and price congestion, expand greenways to everyone, protected bikeways to every neighborhood, and build sidewalks.
June 24, 2019 - Sheila Jackson-Lee and David Price speak on NHHIP's impact to historic Independence Heights and on funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Houston. (Video starts at Rep. Jackson-Lee's comments.)
June 18, 2019 - The dubious distinction on the list comes days before two city-sponsored public meetings to gauge ongoing fears about the project.
June 14, 2019 - How many negative effects are acceptable in one neighborhood for other people’s faster commutes?
June 13, 2019 - Advocacy Director Jessica Wiggins warns, “More people will die on bikes, in cars, walking, and otherwise if the design standards stay as they are. Specifically frontage roads need to be abandoned.”
January 28, 2019 - City leaders have called the $1.3-billion redo one of the city's biggest transportation priorities and a key battleground in a fight between regional mobility and neighborhood-centric ideals.
April 10, 2018 - And will it impact low-income communities the hardest?
October 18, 2017 - In 2014, just before a project was undertaken to widen two interstates in the northeast, Tom Maziarz, then the chief of planning at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said, “You can't build your way out of congestion.” Well, this is Texas. And TxDOT appears to believe that you can.
February 6, 2016 - Adding road capacity will choke growth of state's urban centers.
June 20, 2014 - “For as much as U.S. metros have grown over the past few decades, commute times have remained oddly stable.”
June 17, 2014 - New roads will create new drivers, resulting in the intensity of traffic staying the same.
October 2013 - Even the country’s most sprawling, least dense, most automobile-dependent city in America is trying to adapt to people’s preference for urban living.
March 2, 2022 - How we pay for transportation, why it’s not working, and how to fix it. Length: 37 pages.
May 27, 2021 - “We must always make sure that our roadways serve our city, not dominate it.” Runtime: 25 minutes. Also watch the Q&A that followed (Runtime: 16 minutes).
March 30, 2021 - Why federal civil rights investigators are looking into a Texas highway project. Runtime: 24 minutes.
March 11, 2021 - “We cannot continue to support transportation policy that prioritizes cars over people.” Runtime: 34 minutes.
December 17, 2020 - Pete Buttigieg was just announced as the Biden Administration's nominee for Secretary of Transportation. He talks transportation with Black county officials from across the nation, including Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. Runtime: 57 minutes. Watch the 4-minute exchange between Ellis and Buttigieg.
September 15, 2020 - The City of Houston's first-ever Chief Transportation Planner, David Fields, presents Houston's Transportation Vision. Runtime: 20 minutes.
August 19, 2020 - Local and national experts discuss how transportation infrastructure projects, like the proposed I-45 expansion, impact community health. Runtime: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
March 2020 - How more lanes and more money equals more congestion. Length: 37 pages.
February 12, 2020 - Traffic engineer Don Kostelec explores the reasons for road widening and the consequences of having wide roads. Runtime: 1 hour, 13 minutes.
September 11, 2019 - Watch podcaster donoteat play Cities:Skylines, discussing community impacts as he builds a new urban freeway. Runtime: 17 minutes.
July, 2019 - See link to full report at end of press release. Length: 82 pages.
June 13, 2019 - See link to full report at end of press release. Length: 119 pages.
September 24, 2010 - The Sprawl Repair Manual demonstrates a step-by-step design process for the re-balancing and re-urbanization of suburbia into more sustainable, economical, energy- and resource-efficient patterns, from the region and the community to the block and the individual building.