Public Comments to Houston City Council
Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure Committee Meeting (6/13/2019)
Presented by Jonathan Brooks, Director of Policy and Planning, LINK Houston
Every major infrastructure project using taxpayer dollars should be seen as an opportunity to improve the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods, rather than simply mitigating negative impacts.
Some of the traffic on the proposed I-45 expansion project will carry has its destination inside the City of Houston, but much of it will have regional destinations and only pass by communities in Houston. It is critical that TxDOT delivers a project that leaves all Houstonians in a better position than before, and takes care to ensure that the I-45 North expansion does not negatively impact the city in order to deliver benefits to surrounding areas.
Regionally significant transportation projects, like the I-45 Expansion, undertaken by local, state, and federal entities in our county must meet the following benchmarks:
1. Enhances connections between and within various existing communities.
2. Reduces the number and rate of motor vehicle crashes to reduce the number of
3. severe injuries and fatalities of people in vehicles, walking, and biking, both on the
4. facility and on connecting local streets.
5. Expands the opportunity for residents to safely walk within and between
6. neighborhoods and to ride bicycles on a regionally connected network.
7. Prioritizes and facilitates multimodal travel by incorporating local and regional
8. transit services.
9. Reduces historic flooding patterns and aggressively mitigates new flooding impacts.
10. Prioritizes use of existing right‐of‐way and limits right‐of‐way acquisition when doing
11. so would involve a regulatory taking of private property or housing and design
12. alternatives are feasible that do not require additional property.
13. Preserves existing businesses and community resources while enhancing growth and
14. economic development opportunities within neighborhoods adjacent to the project.
15. Enhances parks and other open spaces as critical to physical and mental well‐being
16. of individuals, families, and communities.
17. Protects and improves public health by improving air quality.
VALUE OF EARLIER AND BETTER COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Active, early engagement during scoping would have enable directly impacted communities to learn about and apply more influence over the physical size and configuration of project alternative designs. TxDOT, the City of Houston, and other stakeholders should more effectively engage communities during scoping.
You have before you a summary of comments from Near Northside residents. LINK Houston has heard similar concerns in other communities, with some variation depending on a specific community’s priorities, such as Independence Heights significant concerns about cultural, historical, and people/jobs/church displacement.
We aim to help TxDOT deliver on its vision:
A forward‐thinking leader delivering mobility, enabling economic opportunity, and enhancing quality of life for all Texans.