In a Dec. 19 announcement, the city of Houston reached an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation and Harris County over the North Houston Highway Improvement Project and I-45.

This comes after the county’s lawsuit against the state over the civil rights implications of the highway.

“I have always said–in its current state–I-45 is not safe,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “It doesn’t meet our flooding needs, our mobility needs.”

Turner said this is one of the largest transportation projects Houston will see in a generation.

The approved plan

The highway will not only be modernized primarily by usage of its current footprint to reduce congestion, but it will also set a precedent for how roads can benefit communities, according to information provided during the news conference.

The $9 billion plan entails providing more pedestrian and bike trails along green space—such as White Oak Bayou, Buffalo Bayou and Emancipation Trail—and the minimizing of the highway’s current presence in green spaces–in addition to flood mitigation and the reduction of historic flood patterns.

“The community came together and said, ‘We can do better,’” Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said.

The project will connect communities via current streets, such as Andrews Street, Lamar Street and McKinney Street.

It will also provide assistance and compensation to residents displaced by the construction in relocating so they can stay within their communities.

“If we can make this project better for even one family, I’m going to do that,” Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said.

Turner signed the memorandum, creating the agreement between the city, county and TxDOT, after the conference. It will be discussed at Harris County Commissioners Court at a special meeting Dec. 22.

“Houston has long been a region where people work together, resolve differences and accomplish great things to position all of us for a better future. This agreement signals that spirit remains alive and well in our community,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, via a statement.

Construction on the next segment, involving the Greater Heights and Fifth Ward, will start in 2023.