I-45 Expansion: Health Impact Assessment and Community Organizing
Supporting Sustainable and Equitable Transportation
The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) planned expansion, known as the North 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. While TxDOT maintains that the expansion is needed to respond to the Houston region’s projected population growth, rethinking this project is an opportunity to demonstrate that our region is committed to moving toward more thoughtful transportation planning. In its current form, the project could cost Houston in terms of air quality, mobility, resilience, climate change mitigation, and social equity, perpetuating the legacy of environmental injustices and related health inequities.
What we’re doing
Civil Rights Complaint Against Discriminatory Actions By TxDOT
In conjunction with partner communities and organizations, we filed two legal complaints against TxDOT under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As currently designed, the NHHIP would displace residents in over one thousand households and hundreds of businesses in communities adjacent to the I-45 corridor, mostly in low income areas.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has ordered a pause of the project to investigate these and other potential civil rights violations. We continue to fight with Houstonians to make sure community concerns surrounding the project are addressed.
A Health Impact Assessment of the NHHIP
In spring 2018, we were funded by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation under the 500 Cities Data Challenge to conduct a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the NHHIP. 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.
See herefor a summary of the key findings and recommendations.