Listen: Near Northside Awaits I-45 Project and the History of Houston’s Transportation Struggles

View of downtown from Near Northside in 2012. Photo: Flickr user Neighborhood Centers Inc., now known as Baker Ripley.

The Urban Edge podcast is back! It’s been a bit, we know, but we’re excited to share the latest episode all about Houston’s complicated and important transportation infrastructure history, including a look at how one neighborhood in the path of the North Houston Highway Improvement Project is responding to the proposals on the table so far.

Near Northside has seen highway projects before but Rebecca Reyna, executive director of the Greater Northside Management District, is optimistic that this project, which covers roughly 24 miles all together and will likely result in the displacement of hundreds of single-family homes and multifamily residences, might present an opportunity to rethink connectivity, multimodal transit and more in the area even if those things aren’t exactly fully funded or thought out in the plans at the moment.

“We’re really trying, as we’re talking with TxDOT and the communities and other people, how do we use this project to reconnect or thread or weave some of these communities back together again,” said Reyna. In her vision, that will involve both parks, bike trails and transit.

Roughly 16 percent of households in the neighborhood just north of downtown don’t have access to car. Other neighborhoods along the route, like Independence Heights where roughly one fifth of households don’t have access to a car, are similarly situated, meaning questions of connectivity are crucial. She’s hopeful the final project, with input from other organizations, can bolster the neighborhood’s existing vibrancy.

“You can’t find a better community,” she added.

Take a tour of the neighborhood with Reyna and her colleague Jorge Bustamante, then hear from Kinder Institute fellow Kyle Shelton about his new book Power Moves: Transportation, Politics, and Development in Houston.

It’s important to tell that story, Shelton said, because “that transportation history is something that touches really every community,” though not to the same extent.

Listen here.

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Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is Senior Editor with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

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