July 11, 2005
TxDOT tries an end run on the I-45 plan

If you ever wonder why people like me have so little faith in TxDOT's reassurances about being considerate of existing neighborhoods as they make their I-45 expansion plans, the following email from Robin Holzer of the Citizens Transportation Coalition should provide a solid clue.

Dear I-45 and North Corridor Coalition leaders:

It appears that TxDOT is keeping citizens, stakeholders, and elected leaders along the I-45 corridor in the dark again...

As you know, many folks are waiting to see TxDOT's Preferred Alternative report for the I-45 North expansion project. It seems that TxDOT and Carter Burgess are on the agenda to present the study to the regional Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) at H-GAC this week. The meeting is this Wed July 13 at 9:30 am at H-GAC's Greenway Plaza offices: 3555 Timmons Lane, Houston, 77027.

However, TxDOT is presenting the study to regional approving bodies before they've shared it with their official "consulting party" partners like the I-45 Coalition, North Corridor Coalition, etc. For example, Jim Weston has been asking TxDOT's Pat Henry for updates on the project for several months and being told to "wait for the report."

This aggressive control of information is concerning. One of the TAC members agreed that as an official TxDOT "consulting party" on the project, the I-45 Coalition is entitled to see, review, and comment on the Preferred Alternative report BEFORE it is presented to the regional approving bodies (i.e. TAC and TPC) this month. He urged interested stakeholders to act now.

While a public meeting is planned for Sat Aug 13 at 2:00 pm with Congresswoman Jackson Lee, August is TOO LATE to start reviewing the study if TxDOT is seeking TPC approval on Fri Aug 26. Community leaders along the I-45 corridor have a right to see and respond to this study now. Neighborhood constituents deserve a meaningful opportunity to let our elected leaders know what we think about the study results.

Therefore, he has made the report public anyway. I've posted more info and links to the report in CTC's online forum.

If you wish to post comments or questions, please register for the forum. Instructions are here.

Individuals can make public comments at the beginning of Wednesday's meeting. However, it will be more effective if our elected leaders were present to ask some critical questions:

* Why is TxDOT presenting this report to the regional approval body when they have NOT yet shown it to the public consulting partners (i.e. I-45 Coalition, North Corridor Coalition, Greater Greenspoint, etc.) or affected elected officials?

* Will the public have 30-60 days to review the study prior to its approval by the TAC and TPC (i.e. with a big public meeting on Sat Aug 13, the public deserves until at least Sept 30 to review the study and submit comments both to TxDOT and to our elected leaders).

* Does this study reflect the results of the joint North Hardy planning study conducted by TxDOT and METRO and completed in 2003 (i.e. emphasis on upgrading major arterials and transit)? That process had great public outreach and consensus building and captured public comments that should be manifest in this study.

* Does this study reflect the public commitment to no additional ROW?

* Does this study reflect growing public interest in innovative alternatives that are sensitive to community needs? Does the North-Hardy planning process allow for studying the feasibility of these new alternatives?

Don't let TxDOT get away with this. Read the documents linked here, and drop in on that H-GAC meeting on Wednesday if you can.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 11, 2005 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack