Bruce Elementary and Secondary DAEP are located diagonal to each other across the I-69/I-10 interchange. Both schools are exposed to more than 4 times the Vehicle Miles Travelled/square mile as an average HISD/AISD campus: Bruce: 40,797. Secondary DAEP: 64,512. HISD/AISD Average: 10,124. The expansion design brings the highway to the property line of both Bruce Elementary and Secondary DAEP and within 500 feet of at least 26 existing school campuses.
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.
Asthma rates at both Bruce Elementary (7.2%) and Secondary DAEP (5%) already greatly exceed the AISD/HISD average of 3.3%. 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.
The expansion would cause the removal or relocation of families in several public housing units, particularly Clayton Homes and Kelly Village. Poverty rates along the expansion are higher than the Houston average: 65.5% in Bruce neighborhood and 75.5% in DAEP neighborhood, compared with 43.2% in Houston as a whole.
The percentage of persons of color is much higher in these neighborhoods than in Houston as a whole: 92.6% in the Bruce neighborhood, 94% in the DAEP neighborhood, compared with 73.7% in Houston. Of the three segments, the affluent Segment 3 (Downtown) has considerable differences in strategies for mitigation than the other two segments; negative impacts of the highway could disproportionately fall on low-income communities of color.
20% of Bruce Elementary students walk to school, exposing them to the -locations with the highest pedestrian and cycling crashes historically in the neighborhood: Jensen Drives and under and next to the freeway. 15 pedestrian and bicycle crashes have occurred within a 1⁄2 mile of Bruce Elementary since 2010; 35 have occurred within a 1⁄2 mile of Secondary DAEP. The NHHIP design will move the freeway closer to both schools and increase the speed of cars traveling down the access road, increasing safety concerns for pedestrians and cyclists. Both schools are currently ranked among the top 10 percent of areas in Houston that are most likely to experience dangerous urban heat island effects. The expansion will construct more impermeable concrete surfaces, which could increase flood risk and the urban heat island effect.