Heights - River Oaks - Montrose Edition | January 2020

VOLUME XX, ISSUE XX  XXXXXXXXXX, 2020 2020 COMMUNITY INFO 11 HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION

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TOP STORY TO WATCH IN 2020

2020will be the year Houston decides I45’s future Ocials, activists push for nal changes to highway plan reshaping downtown

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THIS IS THE BIGGEST DECISION THAT HOUSTON WILL MAKE IN 2020. IN FACT, IT MAY BE THE BIGGEST PROJECT IN ALL OF THE 2020s.”

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 MICHAEL SKELLY, FOUNDER OF THE MAKE I45 BETTER COALITION

Proposed changes to I45 will alter how residents and commuters access downtown. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)

BY EMMA WHALEN

“This is the biggest decision that Houston will make in 2020. In fact, it may be the biggest project in all of the 2020s,” said Michael Skelly, founder of the Make I-45 Better Coalition, which advocates for reforms to the plan. TxDOT is accepting comments on the latest design, which was updated in December, until Jan. 10. In the spring, the agency will release a nal environ- mental impact statement and record of decision, one of the last steps before work may begin. Some city ocials, however, are pushing for changes to the project before it transforms how both

commuters and Inner Loop residents access downtown. Project proposal Transportation ocials cite grow- ing congestion—fueled by population growth and increasing commuter traf- c from Houston’s suburbs—and aging infrastructure as vital issues the state needs to address through the project. Activists and city leaders however, are raising concerns about air quality; sound pollution; displacement, particularly in communities of color; and ooding.

In 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation will reach several crit- ical milestones in a $7 billion project labeled by transportation ocials as transformative and by community activists as destructive. The North Highway Improvement Project, which includes a proposal to reroute I-45 to follow I-69 east of downtown rather than its existing path through Midtown, was introduced in 2004 and revised as recently as Decem- ber after criticism grew from activists, neighborhoods, and city ocials.

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