TxDOT votes to move forward with I-45 expansion project

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The state of Texas took another step toward a huge construction project along I-45 North and into downtown Houston.

This has been a controversial project, but on Tuesday, the Texas Transportation Commission voted to continue supporting it.

It's formally known as the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. The Commission voted to keep it as part of the state's transportation plan in the coming decade.

TxDOT has had it in the works for years, and it's designed to widen the interstate and change its route through downtown as a way to address congestion. However, a citizen group called 'Stop TxDOT I-45' remains against the plan, saying even recent efforts by the state to gather feedback on the process were not inclusive enough of those communities along the congested corridor.

During Tuesday's meeting, the commissioner expressed concerns about the pause on the project still in place by the Federal Highway Administration.

Following the meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addressed the vote, calling it "designed to put two choices against each other."

"Since day one I've supported this investment only if it takes into account the needs of the community it's going to impact," she said. "It should not be too much to ask that those remaking infrastructure in our county do so in ways that actually moves the transportation infrastructure forward."

She added that infrastructure should do more than just temporarily alleviate some traffic until it grows worse again.

"Instead TxDOT should listen to our residents. They should redesign this investment in a way that unites our region, our residents, and finally brings our transportation infrastructure to the 21st century and up to par," Hidalgo said.

The project calls for I-45 to be lifted from its current route to follow US-59. The freeway would flow along the east side of the Central Business District and pair up with I-10 before splitting off north to continue its current path.

MORE STORIES FOLLOWING I-45 EXPANSION PROJECT:

I-45 project may displace families in 1,079 homes, study shows

Moving I-45 to other side of downtown being called 1 of nation's most wasteful projects

Could North Freeway changes bring more pollution to Houston?

Is freeway expansion in Houston causing a greater cultural divide?
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