Houston Families Forced to Fill Out Online Poll to Save Homes Along I-45 Rebuild
You might have heard of the massively controversial expansion plan for Interstate 45 north of downtown Houston . To summarize, the state wants to widen the North Freeway from the city center to Beltway 8, adding HOV lanes and widening the highway in true Houston fashion.
In doing so, the government will need to demolish 1,079 homes, close hundreds of businesses, two schools and a handful of houses of worship, according to a Rice University -funded project detailing the impacts of the expansion.
Countless residents spoke out and opposed the expansion for a plethora of reasons over the years. One such group, Stop TxDOT I-45 , has been actively fighting the expansion for years.
Not wanting to displace thousands of Houstonians (many of whom are low-income families and minorities) is the chief complaint. Other issues focus on potentially shoddy work evaluating the environmental impacts of the project.
Those complaints eventually made their way to the federal government, which in June told TxDOT to slow their roll until more scrutiny is put on the work, according to Dug Begley of the Houston Chronicle .
It's not a full stop, but it did buy residents more time to try and get the project changed to fit their needs.
Now fast forward to this week.
TxDOT will make final approvals for their 2022 Unified Transportation Program on Aug. 31 .
The program is a collection of transportation projects the state plans on starting in the next 10 years. The I-45 expansion is one of them.
To gear up for the meeting, the Texas Highway Commission (which approves the program) is accepting public input on the I-45 project in part through Survey Monkey — which could affect whether or not the project will be approved at all.
The city of Houston and Harris County both want the chance to review and revise the project to help relieve congestion while keeping families in their homes.
But the survey, only available online, only asks if residents want to proceed with the project as-is or scrap it altogether. It's not much choice for those who might favor some kind of expansion but want another option that saves homes.
With the momentum among state leaders and high-dollar advocacy for the project, including a recent $10,000 ad buy by pro-highway Greater Houston Partnership , the survey might be these residents' last hope for saving their homes.
It is unclear how much impact the public input will have on the commissioners' vote in late August.
This saga between residents wanting to save their homes and business owners and state officials looking to curry favor with commuters has been going on for years, costing taxpayers $503 million in planning studies, Begley reported.
There's a public hearing about the project at 3 p.m. Monday, August 2 . To speak, you must register by Friday. Details can be found on the TxDOT website.
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