Local leaders concerned I-45 widening plan will create bigger flooding issues in corridor

HOUSTON – If you talk to Tomaro Bell about TxDOT’s planned renovation for the North Freeway, she won’t nice words.

“Oh hell no. I say no. I say absolutely not,” Bell said, who sits on the Public Safety Committee of the Super Neighborhoods Alliance.

There is no muddying the waters with Bell. She said the I-45 improvement project will lead to just that, more muddy waters.

“When you tell people you are taking elevated freeways and putting them on the ground who just went through Harvey, that doesn’t even make sense. They don’t even have to be a civil engineer,” Bell said.

She is not the only one opposing lane expansion.

“Nooo,” said Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale.

Mack said flooding the area with more concrete will translate to more flooding.

“Already got eight lanes, that’s enough. We don’t need a monstrous amount of concrete, 16 to 20 lanes -- that’s going to flood the neighborhoods even more than they get flooded.”

In TxDOT’s latest facts, reports the number one section is flooding.

TxDOT said they are designing a drainage system that will account for flooding on the highway, adding their other objective is to improve on the status quo by reducing neighborhood flooding.

County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said the widening plans will impact the lives of approximately 1,000 residents and business owners of color in a primarily lower-income sector of the city.

Garcia said he doesn’t view TxDOT’s plans as truly looking out for neighborhood flooding.

“They’re talking about the facility, which really means where the freeway stops. But we need to make sure that the corridor is actively incorporated into flood protections,” he said.

Public comments on the project are set to end Friday.

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