HOUSTON — More than a dozen people gathered in east Downtown Houston Thursday morning to protest the expansion of I-45.
The protesters are part of a grassroots organization called 'Stop TxDOT I-45.' This is the first demonstration the group has held since the pandemic began, but their message remains the same -- put a stop to TxDOT’s North Houston Highway Improvement Project.
The project is a massive undertaking that would double the size of I-45 between downtown to Beltway 8.
"We're here today to tell the Houston-Galveston Area Council, to tell the Houston City Council, to tell TxDOT we don't want this project,” said ‘Stop TxDOT I-45' organizer Molly Cook.
Dressed in red, some of the demonstrators wore hard hats while others held signs and banners to get their message across.
Those opposed said the project will negatively impact the surrounding communities, including its homes and businesses.
The group believes there are better alternatives.
"We want to see more public transit in Houston, we want to see environmental justice and we want to see equity in our transportation planning,” said Cook.
The $7 billion dollar project which would be completed in phases has been a hot button issue for years. TxDOT said the changes are necessary to keep up with Houston’s growth and to increase both its mobility and safety.
The agency says it has kept an open dialogue with the community since the beginning to address concerns.
For now, TxDOT officials said they have no plans of putting the brakes on the expansion.
Cook said they won’t stop protesting either.
"This is going to be the first of many demonstrations we will be holding, and we won't stop demonstrating until this project is stopped and re-worked entirely."
TxDOT says they're currently waiting on an environmental impact statement from the federal government, which breaks down the positive and negative impacts a project may have on a community. They believe that statement will address and clarify a lot of the concerns they've gotten.