TAG Supports I-45 for Safety & Economic Prosperity
Today, TAG’s Executive Director, Andrea French, read the following statement to the Texas Transportation Commission in support of the North Houston Highway Improvement Project
“Good morning Chairman Bugg, Commissioners, Director Bass and all of our agency and community leaders who are listening today. This is Andrea French, Executive Director for TAG – Transportation Advocacy Group Houston Region and I am here today to offer comments for the critical conversations surrounding the North Houston Highway Improvement Project or NHHIP. TAG represents 8 counties and over 100 member companies including non-profit organizations, private sector businesses, governmental entities and industry and community partners.
We are the leading advocate for infrastructure funding to improve regional transportation systems, and our vision is to cultivate a healthy state of mobility in the Houston Region to protect our future growth, economic vitality, and overall quality of life. It is essential that funds already committed to our Region be invested in our Region to improve mobility, and we recognize the necessity of these corridors as vital to the efficient and safe movement of people and freight. We must utilize the funding available now to address these issues – we do not have the guarantee of funding in the future. Quite clearly, guaranteed funding has mingled with much uncertainty with the onset of COVID – this is not the time to press pause.
Therefore, it is clear that leaving I-45 as it exists today would be a mistake. Since 2005, TxDOT alongside METRO and our MPO HGAC, has worked tirelessly to address the looming congestion and safety issues surrounding this corridor. As the Commission reinforced today, November 7 marked 20 years with not one death-free day on our roads. While driver responsibility and safety are paramount to this topic, so is the necessity to update aging infrastructure and engineer transportation systems that reduce the risk of fatalities along our roadways. The NHHIP provides solutions to these critical issues while significantly reducing congestion along a corridor consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous and most congested roads in America.
Without safe, efficient and connected movement for our people and our freight – daily users of this corridor are not the only entity impacted. Our entire economy suffers as well. Countless studies have revealed that for every $1 invested in infrastructure, there is a $3-$6 return on that investment – this means that when we invest in transportation, we invest in our communities, our commerce and our quality of life. Perhaps even more relevant during these challenging times is that for every $1B provided for infrastructure, at least 13,000 jobs are generated.
This project is significant in so many ways and we understand the impact on residential neighborhoods and businesses is also significant. Therefore, we support reconfiguration of this freeway while achieving consensus with communities along the corridors. As TXDOT Commissioner Laura Ryan stated: “I don’t think there is an either / or to this project. We have to find a way to bring all of these goals together”.
In summary, TAG supports TxDOT and their partners – the City of Houston, METRO, Harris County, HGAC and others – in the reconfiguration of the NHHIP corridor as a vital component to the safe, efficient movement of people and freight, with the understanding that in light of the disruption and displacement of residents and businesses, planners, engineers, leaders and communities will continue to work to achieve a best solution, respecting those affected, to achieve mutual project goals. We appreciate and commend the collaboration between all of these partners to develop a solution that best serves our communities and positions our region for safe, efficient and innovative connectivity.