TxDOT retains funding for I-45 expansion project in $85 billion transportation plan

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
TxDOT retains funding for I-45 expansion in $85B transportation plan
Gov. Abbott announced the adoption of the TxDOT's $85 billion, 10-year road construction plan, which includes the long-awaited realignment of I-45 east of downtown.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The major I-45 makeover in downtown Houston remains part of Texas's long-term transportation plans.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the adoption of the Texas Department of Transportation's $85 billion, 10-year statewide road construction plan.

The 2023 Unified Transportation Program reflects an unprecedented level of projected transportation funding dedicated to improving transportation safety, addressing congestion and rural connectivity, and preserving roadways for Texas drivers, according to TxDOT.

Of that budget, $12.4 billion is coming to the Houston area.

"The State of Texas is working to ensure the transportation needs of our fast-growing state are met and that the safety of Texans on the roadways is protected," Abbott said. "TxDOT's 2023 Unified Transportation Program is a critical step toward addressing the diverse needs of Texans in rural, urban, and metropolitan communities. This 10-year plan to address transportation needs statewide and dedicate $85 billion to improve roadways will be a huge boon to our state's infrastructure and booming economy. As more people move to Texas and businesses grow across the state, we are working together to make sure Texans' transportation safety and mobility are secured and businesses can flourish for generations to come."

RELATED: Protestors rally to save apartments from demo in wake of I-45 expansion project

"Tearing down housing for a highway is not any reason to tear down housing," Michael Moritz said as he stood outside the apartments.

The adoption of the UTP also means that TxDOT retains funding allocated to the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project in downtown Houston.

The log-awaited project will deliver new managed express lanes, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and the realignment of I-45 east of downtown, TxDOT said.

The widening project has received major scrutiny as low-income homes would have to be torn down to make room.

It would also send stretches of the freeway underground.

READ MORE: I-45 expansion project remains stalled due to federal investigation

I-45 expansion project, is designed to widen I-45 through downtown to Beltway 8 to address congestion.

While the project is still on pause by the Federal Highway Administration, TxDOT said it is continuing to work with federal, state, and local officials and stakeholders to address concerns with the project.

TxDOT said the UTP funds will coincide with an additional $32 billion over the life of the program for routine maintenance contracts and project development, such as planning, professional engineering, and right-of-way acquisition for more than 7,000 transportation projects and a total investment of $117 billion statewide.

Besides the I-45 project, the UTP will also fund the widening of FM-518 from SH-288 to SH-35 in Brazoria County, the widening of portions of SH-105 in Montgomery County, the widening of I-10 from the Fort Bend/ Waller County line to west of Snake Creek in Fort Bend County, and the widening of I-45 from the Galveston Causeway to 61st in Galveston County.

SEE ALSO: TxDOT votes to move forward with I-45 expansion project

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo addressed TxDOT's vote to push forward the project, as something "designed to put two choices against each other."