HOUSTON - A member of the federal government was in Fifth Ward Monday hearing residents' concerns regarding that major I-45 project.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee invited Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Stephanie Pollack to the meeting to hear area residents who feel they aren’t being heard regarding the I-45 multi-billion dollar project.
"The problem I have with the entire project is that the design of the project is to get those who don’t want to live here no more home quicker by destroying the homes that are here," says one woman.
Just before Deputy Administrator Pollack joined the Congresswoman in Fifth Ward on a tour of the area that will be effected by the I-45 project, Fifth Ward residents made their voices heard in a meeting with Pollack.
"We’re talking about the closing down and the relocation of people at Clayton Homes, Spanish speakers first language like myself," says one resident.
RELATED: Congressman Dan Crenshaw campaigning to jump-start stalled I-45 project
"It is unimaginable. I can’t understand why this continues to happen to my community," adds another.
State leaders also voiced concerns regarding the project, which will widen and reconfigure I-45 from Spur 527 to Beltway 8. The mobility improvement plan as it stands would include displacing residents, businesses.
"Taking churches without even considering the historic nature of them," the Congresswoman adds.
"Welcome to our world when it comes to dealing with state leadership that doesn’t listen, that disrespects, especially in communities of color," says Senator Borris Miles.
"You don’t kill the community that exists, so others can exit quicker. This is what this is about. They tell you it’ll save 10 minutes to get to The Woodlands. It'll save seven minutes to get to Montgomery County. Ok but what about us here?" asks one woman.
"Stop and listen to what the community is saying and let’s, for a change, make plans based on what works for all parties," says State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw.
"We want a redesign because if you design it to literally run through Bruce Elementary School, a historic school then it’s unacceptable. If you do a design that’s going to take 1,000 houses, it’s unacceptable," adds Congresswoman Jackson Lee who has asked the federal government to take a close look at the project.
"The investigation was to see how TxDOT was discriminating against certain communities of color and to determine the unfairness of the design. So we want a redesign," says the Congresswoman.
"You are doing this because of how you feel about your community, your family, your schools, your city, your county, and it’s truly inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing," Pollack told the group at the end of the meeting.
The Deputy Administrator says she will consider everything she’s seen and heard and conduct a thorough investigation. The project is put on hold in the meantime.
TxDOT said in a statement, "We invite you to view comments by TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams and Deputy Executive Director Brandye Hendrickson from the Opening Remarks of the November 30 Texas Transportation Commission meeting for context on TxDOT's understanding of the project status." Those remarks can be viewed here.