Controversial $9B project to widen I-45 is set to start, TxDOT says

Friday, November 10, 2023
Controversial $9B I-45 expansion set to start, TxDOT says
It's a project that's been in the work for years and has been protested many times. But now, TxDOT says they're nearing the start of construction.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After years of planning, studying, and designing, followed by public protests and a county lawsuit, the expansion of I-45 through downtown is on the horizon.

The Texas Department of Transportation said it is nearing the start of construction for the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP).

The massive, nearly $9 billion project to widen I-45 from downtown, north to Beltway 8, is broken up into three segments.

Segment 3, which alone is comprised of nine individual projects, is the portion that runs right through downtown.

SEE ALSO: I-45 expansion can move forward after pause lifted on $9B project

"Our focus presently is on Segment 3, which will be the area that we move forward with first," Raquelle Lewis, the southeast Texas communications director for TxDOT, said.

This is the portion that was facing serious scrutiny for the demolition of public housing, businesses, and churches.

In 2021, the Federal Highway Administration even stepped in over civil rights concerns and paused the project for two years.

Last December, Houston city leaders and Harris County finally agreed to embrace the project only after TxDOT agreed to a series of public health, safety, and housing assurances.

TxDOT said Segment 3 is fully funded and ready for construction.

SEE ALSO: Houston-area leaders announce agreement with TxDOT over hotly-debated I-45 expansion project

"We are looking at getting started with the first project in Segment 3 in 2024, and so we probably have anywhere from seven to 10 years before we see the Segment 3 elements completed," Lewis said.

The first project is a drainage improvement project along St. Emanuel to retrofit the right-of-way.

Robert Gallegos, Houston City Councilmember for District I, is optimistic about the project's benefits, like connectivity, hike and bike trails, and massive green spaces. But, he is urging the public to continue staying engaged with this large-scale overhaul of I-45.

"I think we just need to stay engaged to make sure that we hold them accountable, TxDOT, so that way we make sure that they are going to be giving and not just taking," Gallegos said.

There will be a series of public meetings to share construction details and timelines with the public. For more information, visit TxDOT's website.

Segment 3 Community Meetings

Dec. 6:

In-person at St. John's Downtown Church

5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Dec. 7:

Virtual Meeting

5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Segment 2 Community Meetings

Dec. 11

In-person at the Moody Community Center

5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Dec. 12

Virtual Meeting

5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Segment 1 Community Meetings

Dec. 13

Virtual Meeting

5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Dec. 14

In-person at the Aldine Ninth Grade Center

5 p.m. - 7 p.m.