Federal government puts the brakes on I-45 expansion near downtown

The Biden administration is putting the brakes on TxDOT project to expand I-45 near downtown, citing an investigation into possible civil and environmental rights violations.

On Wednesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Attorney Chris Menefee announced the development. The county filed a lawsuit against TxDOT over the project in March. 

"Under Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act], you can’t have a project that uses federal funds that discriminates against folks on the basis of race," said Menefee. 

County officials say the freeway expansion will displace families in more than 1,000 homes, 344 businesses, five churches and two schools. Many of the those impacted are communities of color.

In their letter to TxDOT, the Federal Highway Administration says the state's responsiveness to the Title VI investigation and project review will determine how long this pause will last.