A new activist group called No Higher No Wider I-10 has formed in response to the Texas Department of Transportation’s consideration of plans to mitigate traffic on a portion of I-10 in Houston from Voss Road to I-45. 

In the identified stretch of I-10, TxDOT plans to elevate and widen the highway, but the opposition group claims it will “harm the city’s landscape and infrastructure, while still not reducing congestion.”

No Higher No Wider I-10 claims that the project will destroy the landscape of White Oak Bayou as well as more than 80 homes and businesses, increase noise and air pollution, and cost an unknown amount of tax dollars. They released their own 37-page plan that they say mitigates a number of their concerns. 

A main feature of their proposal is a highway “cap,” which is essentially a cover over the highway that would allow for the development of parks or businesses on top of the highway. 

This group is one of many that popped up to oppose freeway expansion or redevelopment projects across the City of Houston. 

A different one, Stop TxDOT I45, was formed a few years ago to oppose the expansion of I-45—a project TxDOT calls the North Houston Highway Improvement Project—and prohibit TxDOT from using eminent domain to take private property in the area to aid in the expansion. 

More recently, an ad hoc group led by MacGregor Super Neighborhood 83 was formed to oppose TxDOT, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration from moving a drainage project forward on Highway 288 near Houston’s Medical Center that would have led to the redevelopment of that portion of the highway.

The group hosted town hall meetings to rally opposition and sent a formal cease and desist letter citing environmental impact concerns over the project and the potential of the development flooding communities south of the highway. So far it has been unsuccessful in delaying the project, which broke ground on April 1. 

As federal investment is coming into the Houston area for highway redevelopment, more communities are joining together in formal opposition. 

In the past, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Rodney Ellis have lent their support to these opposition efforts, leading to delays and slight modifications of the intended plans; but as of yet, they have been unsuccessful in permanently delaying or killing any of the proposed projects. 

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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