Alternative I-45 project designs proposed by city of Houston to be unveiled to public

I-45
The North Houston Highway Improvement Project proposed rerouting I-45 through the East End and Fifth Ward, leaving the Pierce Elevated abandoned. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)

The North Houston Highway Improvement Project proposed rerouting I-45 through the East End and Fifth Ward, leaving the Pierce Elevated abandoned. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)

Houston residents Jan. 30 will have their first chance to view alternative design proposals to the pending overhaul of I-45, which is poised to reshape downtown and bring the highway up to modern safety standards.



In response to growing discontent surrounding the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed widening and rerouting of the freeway both downtown and through the Northside, the Houston Planning Department has been developing alternative design proposals based on residents’ feedback.

After gathering input on these design changes, the planning department will present them to Mayor Sylvester Turner, who will in turn formally propose them to TxDOT. While Turner instructed the planning department to develop the alternatives, he does not oppose the project entirely.



“It is still very much a work in progress, but to just say no for the sake of saying no is not in the best interest of the people in the city of Houston,” he told reporters in December.



In a letter to the Houston-Galveston Area Council, which will vote on whether to contribute additional funds to the project this spring, Turner said that he would not support that funding if the city’s needs are not met.



“I think residents should trust the mayor that this matters to him, and he will withdraw his support if TxDOT does not work through these issues, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t continue to talk to other elected officials either," said Jennifer Ostlind, the assistant director of planning services for the planning department.



To see the city’s proposals and provide input, residents can attend one of the three upcoming workshops. All three workshops will follow the same agenda.



Workshops



Jan. 30



6-8 p.m. Emancipation Community Center, 3018 Emancipation Ave., Houston



Feb. 1



10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aldine Ninth Grade School, 10650 North Freeway, Houston



Feb. 3



6-8 p.m. Harris County Department of Education, 6300 Irvington Blvd., Houston



Other dates to know



Jan. 27



In addition to the workshops, At Large 4 Council Member Letitia Plummer is hosting a screening of the documentary "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City" followed by a panel discussion regarding public resistance to the project.



6-8:30 p.m. Emancipation Community Center, 3018 Emancipation Ave., Houston



Jan. 28



Members of the Make I-45 Better Coalition plan to speak during Houston City Council's public comment session regarding the group’s input on the plan.



2:30 p.m. 901 Bagby St., Houston.



Feb. 7



TxDOT is accepting feedback on its community impact assessment reports until Feb. 7.


Comments are being collected at www.ih45northandmore.com/final_eis.aspx.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.