Details for Houston Interstate Project Remain Hazy

With the project still under federal investigation, local and state agencies say they are moving forward with the development of design details for the contentious freeway redesign.

2 minute read

January 19, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Serial view of elevated freeway interchanges with downtown Houston in background

The 'Gulf Freeway' in Houston, Texas. | Trong Nguyen / Houston, Texas

The controversial plan to rebuild and widen parts of Interstate 45 in Houston is once again moving forward after the city and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) came to an agreement at the end of last year.

As reported by Dug Begley for the Houston Chronicle, details of the agreement, which will require plans for rebuilding Interstate 69 under a light rail line, flood control projects, sidewalks and bikeways, and details for how changes to I-45 will impact connecting roads, remain to be worked out. 

Meanwhile, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) review of the project and potential civil rights violations is still in progress. As Begley explains, “Though minor changes have reduced some of the effects, TxDOT’s approved project impacts — the catchword for any structure or dwelling directly touched by the changing road boundary — include 158 houses, 433 apartments or condos, 486 public housing units, 340 businesses, five churches and two schools.”

The North Houston Highway Improvement Project has been at the heart of a fierce debate over the future of downtown Houston, with critics calling for a new approach to transportation and mobility that rejects the perpetuation of unsustainable, car-oriented planning. “In a statement, Air Alliance Houston said the agreements ‘will do very little to protect Houston communities from the harms posed by this project,’ specifically related to air pollution caused by the larger freeway in many neighborhoods around the central business district.”

Thursday, January 12, 2023 in Houston Chronicle

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