Protesters say I-45 expansion will affect minority Houstonians

When you launch a $7 billion, decade-long highway expansion project, lots of lives change, and sometimes not for the better. After the approval of $100 million towards the project, community activists say the current I-45 plan generates too much pain for mostly poor, mostly minority Houstonians.

"Delay the vote and ask TXDOT to go back to the drawing board with all communities, to help create a transportation system that does not sacrifice the health and safety of children, communities of color and low income neighborhoods," said Bakeyah Nelson, Executive Director of Houston Air Alliance.

TXDOT'S own numbers are daunting with more than 1200 homes, 300 businesses and 24,000 jobs displaced, not to mention the potentially negative impact on 26 school and daycare campuses.

For those serving the historically underserved, "the greater good" of more lanes and less congestion leaves too many in the inner city shortchanged.

"We are asking to delay the vote, so that we can make this project one that creates opportunity instead of perpetuating a history of disruption and displacement," said One Blair of LINK Houston.

At the public housing project known as Kelly Village multiple units are slated for demolition to make way for the highway expansion.  

With two years of warning residents are mostly resigned to eventual removal.

They're just hoping the process will bring to their lives improvement, not pain.

"I hope for everybody they at least get vouchers. I strongly feel that everybody here deserves to get a voucher to be able to get in a clean home," said Vanessa Segura, a Kelly Village resident.

"I think most of it is, how long is it going to be? They are anxious to know, Am I going to have to root up my family? They want to know they have time to do that without any problems," said Tony Wyatt, whose lived at Kelly Village the past three years.

The Houston Housing Authority offered Fox 26 the following statement:

"Houston Housing Authority (HHA) serves more than 58,000 Houstonians by providing safe, quality and affordable housing and promoting education and economic self-sufficiency. Planning for the I-45 expansion project has been underway for years, and HHA is prepared with a plan to ensure seamless relocation of the residents at Clayton Homes and Kelly Village who will be impacted. Residents were informed about the expansion and HHA's plan to provide vouchers to the residents and their option to relocate to another HHA community. Our residents are the top priority. We will continue to update residents with additional information and details as they are determined."