HOUSTON - Congressman Dan Crenshaw has declared political war on those seeking to stall and re-configure the proposed $9 billion expansion of I-45.
"Nobody wants to move to a City that is overly congested that doesn't want to invest in itself. I mean this would be a big signal to outsiders you are right that we don't want to invest in our own City. That we can't even widen a highway," warned Crenshaw. "TxDOT is going to take that money somewhere else. That's what everybody needs to realize."
Crenshaw's campaign to jump-start the project off pause has considerable roadblocks to overcome, including opposition from the Biden Administration, local Democratic leaders like Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and a vocal group of neighborhood activists.
Those residents contend the widening and re-rerouting of I-45 east of downtown will wipe out more than 1,000 homes and hundreds of businesses.
"They will be eradicated and you know it will take a few decades, but it will just be a memory on a photograph because they won't even be there anymore to go visit," said Fabian Hernandez, an expansion opponent, and long-time resident.
"They don't think that people are educated enough or know enough or have enough money to fight against this, so they just say we just going to plan without their permission and we're just going to continue what we are doing without even worrying about what they have to say," said Sean Jefferson whose home would be absorbed by the project.
Crenshaw contends the collateral damage is being exaggerated.
"We are talking about a very good and generous program to help and assist those who might be displaced," said Crenshaw.
Expansion opponent Ben Peters says the current plan repeats the mistakes of the past, dividing and diminishing neighborhoods and emphasizing cars over people.
"We will live to regret it. Our children will live to regret it. Our grandchildren will live to regret it," said Peters, an engineer, and member of Stop TxDot I-45.
Crenshaw is quick to point out that critics who tear down the current plan have brought little to the table in terms of a viable alternative.
The Congressman also says the "clock is ticking" with TxDOT potentially shifting the funding to projects elsewhere in the Lone Star State in a matter of weeks.
"They want to appear reasonable to you, the public, while at the same time offering no actual solutions that would get us the infrastructure we need in a quote, unquote, [sic] better way," said Crenshaw.