Houston Academy of International Studies is exposed on its East to 10 times the Vehicle Miles Travelled/square mile as an average HISD/AISD campus. Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy is exposed on three sides to 7 times the district average of traffic-related air pollution. HAIS: 102,100. YWCP: 70,219. HISD/AISD Average: 10,124.
The expansion would move the highway closer to Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, double the width of the highway in some areas, and bring at least 26 existing school campuses within 500 feet of the freeway.
The increased volume of traffic anticipated will introduce more air and noise pollutants into the communities near the highway. These pollutants are linked to poorer student and community health (exacerbating heart disease, respiratory diseases like asthma, and cognitive function), causing more sick days from work and school, reduced academic performance, shorter lifespans, and lower quality of life. Furthermore, a number of traffic-related air pollutants – such as diesel particulate matter, benzene, 1,3 butadiene, and formaldehyde – are known to cause cancer.
At 5%, asthma rates at Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy currently exceed the AISD/HISD average of 3.3% by 50%.
Children attending schools near high traffic areas are some of the most exposed and vulnerable populations to traffic-related pollution due to their developing brain, lungs, heart, and circulatory systems. They receive even more exposure if they’re active outside during high traffic times.
The current freeway demarcates a 500 ft barrier between high -income, majority white on the west side of SH-288 and lowincome, majority people of color neighborhoods on the east side of SH-288. The current proposal for the expansion will further entrench the separation between the Museum District/Midtown on the west side of the freeway with 3rd Ward on the east side.
95 pedestrian and bicycle crashes have occurred within a 1⁄2 mile of -Houston Academy of International Studies since 2010 and 100 within 1⁄2 mile of Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, by far the most in the HIA’s study area. Most of them occurred in the Museum District, 4+ blocks west of the schools. However, a number of them occurred under or adjacent to the freeway. The
current NHHIP design does not invest in design features that would protect pedestrians and cyclists traveling parallel to or crossing the freeway.
The expansion will construct more impermeable concrete surfaces, which could increase flood risk and the urban heat island effect. Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy is currently ranked among the top 15 percent of areas in Houston that are most likely to experience dangerous urban heat island effects.