Texas Department of Transportation votes to continue supporting I-45 North expansion project

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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – The state of Texas has taken another step towards a massive construction project along I-45 North and in downtown Houston.

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

It is officially known as the North Houston Freeway Improvement Project. The Commission voted to make it part of the state’s transportation plan for the next decade.

TxDOT has it in the works for years, and it’s designed to widen the freeway and change its route through downtown to reduce congestion. However, a citizens’ group called “Stop TxDOT I-45” remains against the plan, saying even recent efforts by the state to gather feedback on the process did not sufficiently include these communities along the congested corridor.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioner expressed concern about the hiatus on the project still in place by the Federal Highway Administration.

After the meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke out on the vote, calling it “designed to oppose two choices.”

“From day one, I have supported this investment only if it takes into account the needs of the community that it is going to have an impact,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a stretch to ask those who are rebuilding our county’s infrastructure to do so in a way that advances transportation infrastructure.”

She added that the infrastructure should do more than just temporarily lighten some of the traffic until it gets 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 put our transportation infrastructure into the 21st century and up to the task,” Hidalgo said.

The project calls for I-45 to be removed from its current route to follow US-59. The freeway would run along the east side of the central business district and combine with I-10 before splitting north to continue on its current path.

MORE STORIES ABOUT THE I-45 EXPANSION PROJECT:

Project I-45 could move families to 1,079 homes, study finds

Moving I-45 to the other side of downtown is considered one of the most wasteful projects in the country

Could the North Freeway changes bring more pollution to Houston?

Is the expansion of the freeway in Houston causing a bigger cultural divide?

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