Houston Roadway Would Fuel Growth, Harm Migratory Birds

Plans to build a parkway around Houston will help ease traffic and spur growth in the region, but it will also run right through a key stopover point for millions of migrating birds.
May 15, 2011, 11am PDT | Nate Berg
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Officials say the roadway plan is crucial for the economic vibrancy of the region, but environmentalists are trying to stop the plan to save a key link in the migratory path of birds.

"Development of this pristine land isn't just collateral damage - it's the point of the project. Project sponsors make no bones about it: The 15.2-mile Grand Parkway segment through Katy Prairie is a $462 million development project as much as it is a transportation project. Known as "Segment E," it would be the third phase in a 180-mile "scenic bypass" for Houston. Each of the 11 segments is considered a separate and 'independently justifiable project.'

Billy Burge of the Grand Parkway Association says right now there isn't much need for Segment E, in terms of traffic. Burge and his colleagues don't shy away from the fact that the project will generate more car trips and sprawl. In fact, they have what you might call a "build it and they will come" philosophy about road-building and traffic.

'There's real demand in 15 to 17 years to have this,' said Burge, who chairs the association overseeing the project for the state and the region. 'Once that link is completed, you'll have a steady stream of traffic.'"

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Published on Friday, May 13, 2011 in Next American City
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