I-45 Expansion: Health Impact Assessment and Community Organizing

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 issue

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has proposed to widen the Interstate 45. The 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.

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.

What we’re doing

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.

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.

Continuing the Push to #MakeI45Better

We continue to work together with the Make 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.

Learn more

Our Health Impact Assessment of the NHHIP:

Air Alliance Houston: Health Impact Assessment of the North Houston Highway Improvement Project

Air Alliance Houston: Health Assessment of The Bruce Elementary School Community – Final Report

Air Alliance Houston: I-45 N Expansion Health Impact Assessment – Summary of Key Findings

Air Alliance Houston: I-45 N Expansion Health Impact Assessment – Concerns, Impacts, Possible Solutions

Air Alliance Houston: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) Health Impact Assessment – 3rd Ward/Midtown/Museum District Recommendations

Air Alliance Houston: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) Health Impact Assessment – 5th Ward Recommendations

Air Alliance Houston: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) Health Impact Assessment – Greater Northside/Northline Recommendations

Air Alliance Houston: Proyecto del Mejoramiento de la Autopista del Norte de Houston y Evaluación del Impacto en la Salud (NHHIP por sus siglas en Inglés) – Recomendaciones para Greater Northside/Northline

Air Alliance Houston: North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) Health Impact Assessment – Aldine/Greenspoint Recommendations

Air Alliance Houston: Proyecto del Mejoramiento de la Autopista del Norte de Houston y Evaluación del Impacto en la Salud (NHHIP por sus siglas en Inglés) – Recomendaciones para Aldine/Greenspoint

City of Houston documentation:

City of Houston’s interactive map about the project’s impacts

City of Houston NNHIP website

From our partners:

Make I-45 Better Coalition – documents

Stop TxDOT I45

A letter from Houston and Harris County organizations to Sec. Buttigieg Re: Request from Congressmen Michael Cloud, Brian Babin, Kevin Brady, Randy Weber, Michael McCaul, Troy Nehls, and Dan Crenshaw to halt investigation into Civil Rights Complaints related to the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) – November 30, 2021

AAH, partners respond to TTC’s limited reasonable accommodation/reasonable modification to their meeting and comment policies considering the COVID threat

A formal request for reasonable accommodation/reasonable modification to TTC’s meeting and comment policies considering the COVID threat

Air Alliance Houston’s comments on the draft 2021 Unified Transportation Plan

Air Alliance Houston, partners send a letter to FHWA re: TxDOT comment period on Unified Transportation Program

Air Alliance Houston letter to Secretary Buttigieg Re: FHWA request that Texas Department of Transportation pause contracting on proposed North Houston Highway Improvement Project in Harris County, Texas – March 31, 2021

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) public comments on the NHHIP resolution at HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council virtual meeting – March 25, 2021

Air Alliance Houston, partners send a letter to TxDOT regarding civil rights issues associated with the NHHIP – January 18, 2021

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) public comments on the NHHIP resolution at HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council virtual meeting – January 22, 2021

Air Alliance Houston Final Comments – NHHIP FEIS – December, 7, 2020

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) Public Comments – NHHIP MOU Working Group Meeting – October 7, 2020

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) Public Comments – NHHIP MOU Working Group Meeting – October 1, 2020

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) Public Comments – NHHIP MOU Working Group Meeting – September 21, 2020

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) Public Comments – NHHIP MOU Working Group Meeting – September 3, 2020

Air Alliance Houston (Dr. Bakeyah Nelson) public comments Re: the NHHIP (Agenda Item #5) at HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council – June 26, 2020

Air Alliance Houston’s public comments on the NHHIP (Agenda Item #6) at HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council virtual meeting – April 24, 2020

Air Alliance Houston (Harrison Humphreys) public comments Re: the NHHIP (Agenda Item #5) at HGAC’s Transportation Policy Council – June 26, 2020

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