Press Room

RELEASE - Commissioner Garcia & Area-Electeds Respond to TXDOT’S Final Environmental Impact Study on I-45 EXPANSION

“We cannot support the current project as presented in the FEIS”

Harris County, TX — This week, in response to the Texas Department of Transportation’s Federal Environmental Impact Study for the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (I-45 Expansion), Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia sent a jointly-signed letter to J. Bruce Bugg, Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. The letter, based on community responses and concerns, implores TXDOT to reconsider the current plan and follow guidelines as set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

NEPA violations cited include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The identified purpose and needs were defined in a manner that could only result in a widened highway project that prioritizes single occupancy vehicles.
  • Viable alternatives exist but were not evaluated. The alternatives presented in the FEIS did not consider options that would have reduced impacts on adjacent neighborhoods.
  • The FEIS process does not meet the requirements of NEPA, which stipulate that projects must avoid, minimize, or commit to mitigation that will reduce or offset impacts where possible.
  • The lack of detailed traffic analysis does not allow for a full assessment of the potential impacts of the project. The modeling approach is poorly documented.

In addition, the onset and continuing COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic changes to commutes along Harris County Freeways, many of which may become permanent as more people work remotely. TXDOT has not taken any of these changes into account in design of the project.

From the letter:

“It is important to note that TXDOT has received comments that repeat the same themes going back to the inception of the project, through the DEIS, this FEIS and at multiple points in between. These are comments that have been reiterated repeatedly for over 15 years and continue to be ignored,” Commissioner Garcia said. “At some point we must question whether public input matters. It appears that community feedback and agency coordination has been a perfunctory effort that has resulted in changes only at the margins, with the result being a predetermined design outcome independent of public input.

This joint letter was also signed by: Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, State Sen. Carol Alvarado, State Rep. Armando Walle, State Rep. Christina Morales, Houston City Council Members Robert Gallegos and Carla Cisneros, HCDE School Trustees Richard Cantu and Amy Hinojosa, Houston ISD Board Trustee Judith Cruz, and State-Rep. Elect Penny Shaw.

Frida Villalobos

Communications Director
Office: 713.274.2011
Mobile: 832.546.1533

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