TXDOT WILL remove access into and out of the Near Town Neighborhoods. They will disproportionately bear the burden of the project and will create greater economic and environmental injustice. Among these disproportionate burdens are significantly increased travel times, increased traffic on residential streets, increased noise and air pollution, decreased desirability of the area and decreased opportunity for economic development.
Restricted egress from the Near Town Neighborhoods through the loss of entrances to I-45 and I-610 will be a further burden on low-income residents in the case of an evacuation (due to a hurricane or other disaster). Traffic will further back up inside the areas and more time will be spent getting on the evacuation routes, thus inequitably decreasing the safety of these residents.
LOSS OF ACCESS TO THE Near Town Neighborhoods adversely impacts the ability of first responders to travel to and from the neighborhoods. Many of our first responders are headquartered outside these areas For example, the Central Division of Houston Police Department (“HPD”) is located downtown. Precinct 6 and Precinct 1 Constables are headquartered in the East End and downtown.
The beautiful view of downtown from many areas in the Near Northside is one of the advantages of the neighborhood. These beautiful views will be blocked by TXDOT'S new placement of I-10 and I-45 coming out of downtown, thus, again, unduly burdening the residents of the Near Northside, making the area less desirable for development and economic growth.
TXDOT proposes a number of retention ponds in the Near Northside. They will be the subject to urban blight (trash, overgrown plants, places for the homeless to congregate and kids to do drugs, etc.). The last thing the Near Northside needs is more vacant land succumbing to urban blight.
Bike trails in the Near Northside are critical to its residents because of the number of residents using their bikes out of necessity for transportation. The White Oak Bayou Bike Trail currently connects to the Spring Street Bike Trail and creates the ability for Near Northside cyclists to ride to the First Ward and its shopping areas (including Target) without endangering themselves on busy city streets. TXDOT'S proposal would cut off the connection between these bike trails.
TXDOT'S proposed removal of the North Street bridge isolates the Near Northside from the Greater Heights, as well as from Houston Avenue, a connection into downtown, to the First Ward and to the growing shopping areas on Sawyer, Studemont & Yale Streets.
The North Street bridge is also vital to the surrounding neighborhood because of the existence of the White Oak Music Hall (“WOMH”) and the traffic/parking issues from concerts there. Removing with North Street Bridge would significantly increase back-up and congestion in an area that already suffers a tremendous amount of congestion due to concert attendance. WOMH is one of the few new business endeavors in the Near Northside. Removing the North Street bridge would have a debilitating impact on its patrons as well as the nearby residents, resulting in further economic injustice.
The North Street bridge is also a vital bike & pedestrian connector into the Greater Heights, First Ward and downtown. The alternative bridge at North Main St. is far too busy to be conducive to bikes or pedestrians.