As part of the IH-45 North Hardy Corridor Planning Studies, TxDOT and Carter Burgess first presented the idea of the managed lanes project to the public during meetings at Jefferson Davis High School and Greenspoint Mall in October.
But since then, members of the Citizens Transportation Coalition and the I-45 Coalition say the transportation department has left them out of the loop.
The latest example of that, they claim, was that despite promising to keep community input on the project high, TxDOT did not present either its completed Alternatives Analysis Report or the executive summary of its findings to its community partners.
Representatives from both groups say the department has done an "end around" to keep them out of the planning process. And one member of the HGAC advisory committee agreed.
A letter mailed to members of the HGAC's Technical Advisory Committee, which included a CD containing the Carter Burgess and TxDOT report, stated, "Please be aware that the complete report is still a preliminary draft being transmitted only to TAC members at this time and is not to be reproduced for any other purpose."
To some, including TAC member John Wilson, that message was indicative of a process that he says TxDOT has continuously tried to keep from the public.
"I'm offended and embarrassed that HGAC was asked to (keep this secret)," Wilson said. "TxDOT has taken what was an example of excellence in planning and turned it into an exercise in arrogance."
The Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, which received a copy of the CD containing the report, posted the report and its executive summary on its Web site.
The group did not comply with TxDOT's request to keep the information private, writing on its Web site that "GHASP is disregarding this improper request because we believe that the effected community has a right to this public information."
"We knew in May that the report was coming out in July," said Robin Holzer, chair of the Citizens Transportation Coalition's board of directors. "Then we got the TAC agenda a week before the Fourth of July, saying that the report was going to be presented. I sent an e-mail to HGAC asking when they were going to post the report, and they said they weren't posting it."
At the July 13 meeting, Holzer asked the committee to hold off on approving the TxDOT plan until the community had a chance to review the department's report and present a response.
Once the Technical Advisory Committee makes its recommendation on TxDOT's report, the plan will be presented to HGAC's Transportation Policy Council, which must approve it before the department can move forward with the planning process.
"This is the report these neighbors have been waiting for," Holzer said. "TxDOT has had the ability to let these folks know that this report was available, but chose not to. It seems unlikely that citizens will have an opportunity to see, read and analyze this report before this committee next meets and would likely vote on it. We respectfully ask you to defer any decision until your September meeting."
On Friday morning, TxDOT will present their recommended alternative for expanding I-45 North to our region's Transportation Policy Council (TPC). Neighborhood leaders from the I-45 Coalition and the Citizens' Transportation Coalition (CTC) will be joined by Houston City Council Members Adrian Garcia and Ronald Green, to press TxDOT to revise the plan to address major flaws and give the public time to review the report, prior to TPC approval.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
m (713) 816-0444
m (832) 754-1202
m (713) 301-5716
TXDOT TO PRESENT HUGE EXPANSION PLAN FOR I-45 NORTH. PROJECT MAY TOP $3 BILLION.
Neighborhood leaders and Houston City Council members demand changes to flawed plan.
(Houston) - The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is planning a massive expansion of IH-45 North. On Friday, the Transportation Policy Council (TPC), chaired by Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, will hear TxDOT's "recommended alternative" for the IH-45 expansion project.
TxDOT's plan will require expansion from 225 feet of right-of-way to 392 feet. However, TxDOT's study fails to disclose possible right-of-way requirements for any of the alternatives studied.
Further, the report claims the project might cost only $395 - $455 million, or $13.2 - 15.2 million per centerline mile. In contrast, the IH-10 Katy Freeway expansion project is now estimated to cost $2.67 billion - or more than $106 million per mile. At 30 miles long, the IH-45 project will rival the Katy Expansion project in scope and may cost as much as $3.18 billion.
Neighborhood leaders are calling for TxDOT to fix the study and let the public review the revised plan for 60 days prior to approval by the TPC. TxDOT has yet to post the report on the department's website or otherwise notified citizens that the draft report is available. Houston City Council Members Adrian Garcia and Ronald Green will ask TxDOT to revise the study and ensure both citizens and elected officials have access to the revised report.
What: Presentation of IH-45 expansion plan
Meeting of the Transportation Policy Council
Public comments by Houston City Council Member
Adrian Garcia and concerned neighborhood leaders
When: Friday, July 22, 2005 at 9:30 am
Please note: public comments are at the very
beginning of the meeting
Where: Houston-Galveston Area Council offices, 2nd floor,
conference room A
3555 Timmons Lane at Richmond Ave, Houston, 77027