March 7, 2023 -- Following this morning's major news from the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation, FHWA and TXDOT Sign Agreement to Allow I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project to Move Forward | FHWA, the City of Houston has released the following statement:
Mayor Turner has repeatedly stated that the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) is a potentially transformative project with the chance to chart a new course for transportation in the region. This was the foundation for the Memorandum of Understandings between the City and Harris County, and TxDOT and is now further memorialized by the Voluntary Resolution Agreement (VRA) between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), including key topics that echo between the agreements:
“After years of negotiations, the North Houston Highway Improvement Project can now be the project Houston deserves it to be,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “A project that addresses I-45’s repeated flooding while maximizing the opportunities for people to stay in their homes and neighborhoods. It is a project that helps people and goods travel through the region while encouraging people to travel between our neighborhoods without impacting them. A project that can help knit back together our downtown and improve the air we all breathe. I thank the many project partners and stakeholders that have brought us to the point, including FHWA, TxDOT, Harris County, METRO, and especially our residents.”
The mitigation measures for the topics identified in the VRA are now a component of the NHHIP environmental review process, with status and weight equal to the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, coupled with enforceability measures and monitoring and reporting requirements.
With the execution of the MOUs and the VRA, the City of Houston is prepared to reengage TxDOT on all segments of NHHIP, restart robust engagement, and see the NHHIP project move from two decades of planning to successful completion.