I-45 Expansion: Health Impact Assessment and Community Organizing
Supporting Sustainable and Equitable Transportation
TxDOT’s proposal to widen the I-45 could cost Houston in terms of air pollution, congestion, mobility, resilience, and social equity. Rethinking this project is an opportunity to demonstrate that our region is committed to moving toward more thoughtful transportation planning.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has proposed to widen the Interstate 45. The planned expansion, known as theNorth Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP), will run from the I-45N/Beltway 8 intersection on the north side of Houston to the I-45/I-69/288 intersection just south of Midtown.
TxDOT maintains that the expansion is needed to respond to the Houston region’s projected population growth.
However, in its current design, the NHHIP could harm the public health and quality of life of the surrounding communities due to more pollution, noise, and reduced safety, among other ills. Moreover, the project is anticipated to have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, causing mass displacement, destroying the social fabric of neighborhoods, and making it more difficult for people to reach economic opportunities, perpetuating the legacy of environmental injustices and related health inequities.
By locking our region into a car-centric future, the proposed expansion will further deteriorate Houston’s already poor air quality and jeopardize the city’s ability to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the new draft Climate Action Plan.
The assessment focused on potential air quality, mobility, and flooding impacts at nine priority school campuses along the I-45 corridor. The study represents eight months of examining data and engagement with stakeholders and community members to evaluate the potential health impacts of the proposed expansion.
Our findings show that if mitigative strategies are not put in place, children and the surrounding communities may experience increased exposure to harmful air pollution, face more traffic safety concerns, and have to deal with aggravated flooding risks.
We are advocating for TxDOT to include adequate mitigations of the project’s adverse health impacts in the Final Environmental Impact Statement of the project.
See here for a summary of the key findings and recommendations.
Read here the full Health Impact Assessment Report.
We continue to work together with theMake I-45 Better Coalition, impacted residents, the City of Houston, Harris County, the Houston-Galveston Area Council, and TxDOT to make sure community concerns surrounding the project are addressed.