At activists’ and local officials’ request, the Texas Department of Transportation extended the public comment period on the forthcoming I-45 project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.
“TxDOT wishes to assure the public that our team will continue to engage with the stakeholders and seek meaningful opportunities to enhance this project,” an Oct. 28 release from the agency stated.
The project, which plans to overhaul much of I-45’s path through downtown Houston, has received significant public attention. Advocacy groups, such as transportation equity advocacy group Link Houston, wanted more than one month to review the 8,000-plus page document. The original deadline for comments that was set for Nov. 9 was extended to Dec. 9.
“The FEIS is 8,189 pages across three volumes. That would be impossible to read in the 30 days,” Link Houston Director Oni Blair said. “At first glance, we don’t see any major changes, especially ones of the magnitude that Mayor [Sylvester] Turner identified.”
Some, including Sylvester Turner, wanted to see a 60-day extension.
The project has solicited strong reactions from some Houston residents and elected officials for its proposal to reroute and expand the highway through the East End while abandoning its path through Midtown. Advocacy groups such as Stop I-45 and The Make I-45 Better Coalition claim the project will have disproportionately negative impacts on communities of color in the East End, Fifth Ward and Northside.
According to the environmental impact report, the project, as currently designed, will displace 160 single-family homes, 433 multifamily residences, 486 public and low-income housing units, 344 businesses, five places of worship and two schools.
Proponents of the project have said it will alleviate congestion, flooding and safety issues on the over 50-year-old highway.
Comments can be submitted by mail to the Texas Department of Transportation, Director of Project Development, P.O. Box 1386, Houston, Texas 77251 or by email to [email protected]
Public comment period extended on I-45 Environmental Report
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)