US Dept. of Transportation tells TxDOT to pause I-45 expansion

Federal authorities have asked the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to pause the I-45 expansion project after receiving letters from Air Alliance Houston and allies about the project’s potential civil rights violations.

On January 18, we sent a letter to TxDOT warning that moving forward with construction without addressing the environmental justice issues identified in the project’s final impact assessment would be violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Our letter, together with two others, was forwarded to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and this week, they responded. The FHWA asked TxDOT to halt the project while they investigate its disparate impacts on low-income communities of color along the corridor.

TxDOT has refused time and time again to listen and incorporate feedback from experts and communities that have called for a more sustainable and equitable approach. We’re encouraged to see that the federal government is listening and taking our concerns seriously.

You can read below the full letter from the FHWA.

This news came in as on the local front, Harris County Attorney’s Office announced that it is suing TxDOT over the project. The County has asked a federal judge to require TxDOT to discontinue any development until impacts to the environment and local communities are properly considered and addressed. We thank Judge Hidalgo, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, and other county leaders for recognizing that this deeply misguided project needs to be halted immediately until TxDOT can address the numerous structural flaws of the design. 

These halts to the project are promising and we will continue to push back together with impacted residents and partners.

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