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TxDOT announced a plan to raise the rarely flooding I-10 through the Heights at a staggering cost of $347 million.
The project includes the construction of a 21.7 acre detention basin (needed to mitigate their planned raising of I-10) on the south bank of WO Bayou. If they go forward, it will necessitate cutting down the largest woods adjacent to the bayou inside the Loop.
The short fuse timing necessitates rapid public (and gov. rep) awareness. Also, although the road did flood during Harvey, unlike homes or commercial buildings, it simply drains off. Would closing the road for a few hours be more cost-effective and less expensive and disruptive?
Our concerns revolve around destruction of so many trees in an urban heat island with the attendant heat increase, noise buffer removal, loss of CO2 storage and biodiversity, decrease in soil permeability, and reduction in water absorption. Please put this announcement on your radar, and spread the news, including to Houston’s green team, Council Reps, and civic orgs. Thank you.
We need to make all the following groups aware:
- Houston Parks Board
- Houston Heights Association
- Council Member Abbie Kamin
- Council Member Karla Cisneros
- Council Member Letitia Plummer
- Council Member David Robinson
- Council Member Sallie Alcorn
- Commissioner Rodney Ellis
- Commisioner Adrian Garcia
- Trees For Houston
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
1) Covered detention pond prohibits healthy wetland development
The project will require a 21.7 acre detention basin to be built mostly (~3/4) UNDER the roadway, with a small part (~1/4) under open sky, just to detain the excess runoff from the project itself! See diagrams.
- the basin will not support much plant life in the absence of sunlight
- it will be a vast, dark place, collecting trash and runoff from the road – THINK HY 59 Downtown, except occasional standing pools of water
- with an overhead “roof” of freeway lanes, impounded water can stagnate, providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes (detention basins should be designed to function as wildlife benefiting wetlands with natural filtration)
2) We believe it is a massive waste of taxpayer $$$$$
TxDOT claims that because the road had water on it during Tropical Storms Allison (2001), Imelda (2019), and Hurricane Harvey (2017), it needs to spend $247 million to raise part of the freeway 30-40’ or more into the air! This will project noise and air pollution into surrounding neighborhoods.
- Why so high ?
- Doesn’t water just drain-off after storm events ?
- Don’t evacuations occur ahead of storm events ?
- Why isn’t the cost of massive traffic disruptions during years of construction included ?
3) Basin construction will destroy many trees
which comprise the largest riparian woods adjacent to WOB inside the 610 Loop
- Local temperatures will rise, less carbon will be sequestered by trees
- Increased noise level will likely adversely affect birds and other animals
Alternative approaches, including channel restoration combined with increased in-line detention and additional upstream detention, would have flood-risk reduction benefits extending well beyond just the I-10 right-of-way. We believe the $347-million estimated for elevating the freeway could be much better spent on sustainable flood risk reduction measures that also result in environmental uplift and community improvement rather than adversely impacting both our community and our environment.
Destroying the Taylor-Houston Woods…the ill-conceived plan to raise and widen I-10
FYI, the White Oak Bayou Association and others have documented 193 species of birds along WOB between Taylor and Houston Ave, a huge diversity for an urban setting, not to mention all the other critters that call these woods home.
Comments to TxDOT are due on Aug 26. You can find details in the previous post, which has links to TxDOT and the WOBA’s comments.