Despite a federal hold on the controversial freeway widening project, the Texas Department of Transportation is pushing ahead with the demolition of an apartment complex in downtown Houston.
“State authorities are slated to demolish hundreds of apartments in East Downtown this week to make way for an uncertain and controversial expansion of Interstate 45,” reports Jay R. Jordan in the Houston Chronicle.
The North Houston Highway Improvement Project has been on hold as the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) examines claims of civil rights violations. But “TxDOT says it is well within its rights to demolish the now-empty trio of buildings at 610 St. Emanuel Street since it started the proceedings before President Joe Biden's administration put a pause on the project. The agency spent months purchasing the property and paying hundreds of residents to relocate.” The agency argues that the vacant buildings now pose a safety risk to the surrounding neighborhood.
Advocates with Stop TxDOT I-45, who have long railed against the project and were part of the group that filed the civil rights complaint, said the apartment is an example of good urban planning: It's connected to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's green and purple light rail lines, within walking distance to bustling nightlife and the city's center, and close to several multimodal amenities—including a Houston B-Cycle station.
“The group Stop TxDOT I-45 claims demolition will start this week. Organizers are planning a demonstration at the vacant apartments Tuesday night to protest the work, while others work behind-the-scenes to find a way to stop the destruction.”
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