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HOUSTON (CW39) – If you have lived in the Houston area for awhile, you likely know the North Houston Highway Improvement Project has been in the works for about a decade. A big part of the project is widening and re-routing I-45 to improve traffic flow through Downtown Houston.

TxDOT recently released a video that gives an overview of the whole project. If you are not totally sure what all is changing, the video sums it up in about six minutes.

One question you may have about the plan is if what is depicted in the video is set in stone. Danny Perez with TxDOT explains that what you see in the video is the preliminary design, so it is what they are working towards, but this is not the final design.

“We provided a list of potential options for folks including what we call “no build” meaning not to reconstruct and leave it as is, we put that on the table as well. Folks wanted something done. They want to see traffic moving. They want to see improvement in mobility and also improvement in safety, so we did take all of those options and we provided those to folks and then were able to narrow it down to the options we have today,” explained Perez.

The proposed project includes adding four managed express lanes on I-45 from Downtown Houston to Beltway 8 North, it would reroute I-45 to be parallel with I-10 on the north side of Downtown and parallel to 59 on the east side of Downtown.

This is a huge project, one that will take years to complete. Its broken up into three segments and construction is set to begin in late 2022. Here is a look at the timeline for the first segment they will work on, which is segment three.

Segment 3 (Downtown Loop)

  1. 288/ 69 interchange – anticipated construction start would be late 2022 and it will take about three years to construct.
  2. I-10 corridor portion of the project – construction could begin as early as 2024 and it would take about five years to construct.
  3. 45/69 reconstruction, east of downtown – construction could begin in late 2025 and it would take about five years to construct. 

All of these dates are anticipated, but are subject to change.

For more information on the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, click here.

Even though there have been several public meetings and TxDOT has received input from lots of organizations to come up with this plan, still not everyone is on board with it.

Part of expanding the road means that hundreds of houses and businesses will have to move. 

TxDOT provides relocation assistance, but some people feel that it’s not enough and say there is more to it than just moving.

Kendra London with Our Afrikan Family, one of the organizations working with the Stop TxDOT I-45 group says the housing voucher is not going to fix everything. She says there is a “domino effect of burden” that begins with displacing people who have lived in the Fifth Ward and other impacted areas for years. She’s concerned with the culture of the community as a whole.

“We have a village mindset, so everyone takes care of everyone. There’s no way that I thought that as a child I wouldn’t be able to purchase a home in my community and sit on the porch as my aunts and my grandmothers do and also they’re guiding the children that are passing through the street. That’s a tradition, so you are breaking culture, you are destroying the culture and no one seems to care,” said London.

London explains another of her concerns about people being forced to move out of the area for the highway to come through is transportation.

“You are going to push a group of people of people who are used to having a Metro bus line, Metro transit at their leisure and if they move and take those vouchers to Humble, Sugar Land, Pearland wherever, any outskirts, they aren’t going to be as self-sufficient as they are now,” explained London.

Click here to learn more about the mission of Our Afrikan Family.