North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP)
“The NHHIP is a potentially transformative project...This is our chance to rise to the challenge and chart a new course for transportation in the region. It is crucial that every opportunity is taken to design and construct the best possible project.”
- Mayor Sylvester Turner, May 12, 2020
Read Commissioner Ryan's response to Mayor Turner's letter here.
The North Houston Highway Improvement Project is one of the largest infrastructure projects the City of Houston will see in a generation. To ensure this project meets our goals, Mayor Turner asked City of Houston Planning and Development Department to lead a Facilitation Group to elevate the community’s concerns and recommend ways to improve the project. Over the past year, they have listened to the public by hosting nine public meetings and reading through 1,130 written comments received to date by the City and TxDOT. Using this feedback and working with City departments, Harris County and METRO, they have developed a conceptual vision for the project.
City’s Presentation to TPC
On April 24, the City gave an update on the Facilitation Group process to the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council.
In its communications to TxDOT, the City of Houston has identified its goals for the project:
- Strengthen Houston’s economy.
- Reduce flooding on and off the freeway.
- Make travel safer for all road users.
- Provide long term capacity for all users of the roadway, including automobile, freight and transit.
- Serve and preserve the neighborhoods along the corridor while enhancing connectivity between neighborhoods.
- Mitigate impacts to existing parks and greenspace while creating additional opportunity for green space.
- Limit right-of-way to the extent necessary to meet project goals, i.e., reduce the current footprint of the proposed plan.
- Ensure accessible evacuation routes.
The city also believes this project should support the goals outlined in multiple City plans that were developed with significant public input:
The city also believes that the project should support the METRONext transit plan, adopted by voters in November 2019.
Harris County, through a vote of Commissioners' Court, has adopted its own goals, which are generally aligned with the city’s goal.
The City has coordinated with METRO and Harris County through this process.
What We Heard
The City and its Technical team held two rounds of public workshops, in Summer/Fall 2019 and in early 2020.
For Segments 1 and 2 (from Downtown to Greenspoint), the Mayor is asking TxDOT to consider the following elements:
- Design an alternate lane configuration for Segments 1 and 2 that measurably reduces the required right of-way.
- Work with METRO to determine how regional express bus and bus rapid transit can reliably operate in the corridor as part of the voter approved METRONext plan, including stops that serve the surrounding communities.
- Study how bridges and other highway elements can be designed to accommodate future flood mitigation and open space projects on Halls and Little White Oak Bayous.
- Study how frontage roads can be designed to improve safety and accommodate all road users.
- Retain and expand local street connectivity, particularly for people walking and biking.
- Identify ways of improving the freeway aesthetics, especially through trees and landscaping.
These are detailed in the technical appendix to the letter submitted by Mayor Turner.
Public comments resulted in one design concept for Segments 1 and 2 of the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. The footprint and lane configuration of this vision is described as follows:
- Rebuild the highway within the current footprint as much as possible.
- No added main lanes.
- Current reversible HOV lane is replaced with two-way, dedicated transit lanes.
- Design exceptions and lane widths and shoulder widths as required to keep the footprint within the current right of way.
- Reconstruction of interchanges and on- and off-ramps.
The City requests to partner with TxDOT to study this and other alternate configurations for Segments 1 and 2. This study would include:
- A confirmation of goals amongst TxDOT, Harris County, METRO, and the City.
- The development of a new alternative as described, along with any other alternatives that TxDOT may identify.
- Traffic modeling for the new alternative with agreement on the parameters for that traffic modeling
- Robust public input
This alternative will require study and robust public input to be fully defined and analyzed.
The City believes that this alternative increases capacity for people and freight and increases safety on both the highway and the surrounding streets while minimizing property impacts and displacements of homes and businesses.
The mayor is also asking TxDOT to incorporate a number of improvements to the design on Segment 3, including:
- Improved trail connections
- Additional and improved crossings
- More parks and open space
- Mitigation for lost connections
- Freight rail improvements
- Planning for 2-way HOV on all corridors
TxDOT has separated this project into three segments which would be built on different schedules. Segment 3 includes sections of I-45, I-69, and I-10 around and south of Downtown. Segement 2 is I-45 from Downtown to I-610. Segment 1 is I-45 from I-610 to BW-8.
On Segment 3, TxDOT can move forward:
- Adopt a Record of Decision
- Include limited modifications and additions
Segments 2 and 1, TxDOT should study alternatives:
- Confirm mutual project goals
- Design & traffic model as a new alternative (or other options that meet the goals we set out)
- Conduct a comprehensive study of freight movement through the regionContinue Public input
- Make a decision following study
- Use design-bid-build for Segments 1 and 2
TxDOT is currently preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement. The public will have the chance to review the document for 30 days. Following the review period, TxDOT intends to reach a Record of Decision.
Current regional planning documents show that construction on Segment 3 would start no earlier than late 2021. Construction on Segment 2 would start no earlier than 2023, and Segment 1 would follow that.
For information on Previous Public Meetings, please visit the archived webpage here.