Jumpstart of I-45 expansion draws protests from Fifth Ward residents

The stalemate blocking the multi-billion-dollar expansion of I-45 has been at least partially broken with a "green light" given by the Federal Highway Administration for TxDOT to proceed with a portion of the project known as "segment 3", in and around historic Fifth Ward.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Protesters say I-45 expansion will affect minority Houstonians

Congressman Dan Crenshaw was among those who welcomed the resumption of work.

"We need to get this done," said Crenshaw. "Houston needs it. This is one of the most dangerous highways in the country with the most fatalities, the most congestion. It's time to get it fixed."

But in the neighborhood targeted for irreversible disruption, Kendra London raised her voice in protest.

"These multi-billion dollar projects are destroying my community," said London. "It doesn't look like there's any remorse. It's just business."

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A life-long Fifth Ward resident, London says the condemnation of homes and businesses in this historically African-American enclave will strip away much more than hard-earned land, history, and shared culture.

"We are safe here. We are safe because we know our neighbors," she said. "We are safe because our neighbors know what child belongs to what family. When you move and take us out of our safe zone, now we are vulnerable."

But before the state-sanctioned scattering of Fifth Ward can commence, those who see it as necessary collateral damage will face more push back from London and those like her.

"I'm fueled off of caffeine and anger,"  said London. "I have a lot of time. So it will never be over."


London is pinning her hopes on a civil rights suit currently pending in Federal Court. It is racial discrimination litigation aimed at stopping what she refers to as "legalized theft" from a community of color.