Most major Texas cities have now taken positions in support of meaningful alternatives for major freeway projects proposed by TxDOT, but TxDOT has not fully incorporated any of these meaningful alternative proposals to be considered in an Environmental Assessment process.
The City of Houston developed a full alternative proposal for the I-45 freeway project, TxDOT did not consider their proposal. In Austin local community and elected officials have consistently asked for consideration of alternative designs. Instead TxDOT has only offered three variations on the same design.
The El Paso County Commissioners Court asked TxDOT to carry forward two of TxDOT’s own design alternatives for I-10, in part because they were significantly different from the other design proposals, but also because the public hadn’t been allowed to consider those two options.
The Federally required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is intended to allow for meaningfully different alternatives to be considered. We invest millions into consultants to analyze these scenarios, but the alternatives we end up with are all mostly the same variation on widening freeways, instead of meaningfully different proposals. This is a waste of public funds and resources.
Given that TXDOT has not considered meaningful different scenarios for these massive projects, a simple solution is to allow for local governments to identify and suggest their own design alternatives, and for TXDOT to include those proposals to be analyzed alongside TXDOT’s own proposals as a part of this process.
Not only will this allow for potentially better solutions, but it also can provide for assurance to the public that the TXDOT proposals are actually better when they are proven to meet the purpose and needs of the TXDOT environmental process better than the locally generated investment scenario.
Please send an email to your State Representative to support House Bill 4515, authored by State Representative Penny Morales Shaw, and to sign on as a co-author, as it would ensure local communities would have the opportunity to present their own alternative(s) if they feel the TxDOT plans don’t consider that community’s needs.
Tell your state Representative to support and co-author HB 4520
TAKE ACTION TODAY
This coming Tuesday, April 20, HB 4515, will be heard in the House Transportation Committee.