More Highways, More Problems

In the article More highways more problems the author Amal Ahmed explains the negative impact of building more roads in the metro areas. The Houston-Galveston Area Council did agree upon funding the North Houston Highway expansion that is supposed to add some miles of the freeway along I-10, I-45 and 600. All this is hope that it will boost the growth of the fourth largest city in the country as congestion will be eased and commute improved. Just like in Texas’ cities tacking more lanes to present highways seems to be the solution to Houston’s traffic. According to TxDOT, about 20 billion US dollar will be used in the next 20 years to improve highways.  The current multimillion-dollar highway projects in progress across Texas are the I-35 in Austin, I-345 Bridge and I-45 in Houston.

According to Amal highways keep filling up regardless of how fast the state builds them. For instance, the Katy Freeway which connects downtown Houston to the suburb with its 23 lanes was built by 2011 hoping it will save commuters from congestion during the rush hours (Ahmed). However, by 2014 the condition of commutes was worse than it was before the expansion. What happened was that expanding a freeway enticed more drivers to get on the road.

The I-45 will bring more air pollution not forgetting its completion will lead to some people losing residences. As per the moment, neither the city nor TxDOT has implemented plans that will provide new housing to the displaced families. Amal is of the idea that how the expansion of I-45 excessively affects neighborhoods of color is historical and not accidental. The truth is that most federally managed highways are built to clear slums. Houston is a city with a long history of disfiguring communities of color when it comes to highway construction (Ahmed).

Before the building of highways commences quite a couples of years are spent planning and coordinating between regional, city, state and federal agencies. But local people are not interested in thinking decades into the future about transport policies. The plans made by the involved agencies consider economic growth, expected population, where jobs are and in which direction will commuters go. Adding to an existing freeway is much easier compared to re-imagining the mobility of an entire municipal area. This explains how highways and their expansion is passed from one generation of urban planners to another.

I did concur with the author on how the building of more lanes causes induced demand. This phenomenon comes forth after people with cars at home (but had opted to use public transport) see that more roads have been built. They, therefore, decide to bring their cars which end up being too many and worsen the condition during rush hours.  From the article by Ahmed one realizes that expanding highways is not the solution to congestion. Perhaps improving transportation services might be a better solution. Another factor that discourages the building of highways is how it leads to the displacement of people. It is so unfair how the federal government displaces residents and fails to relocate them. The more highways present the unpleasant the environment turns because of air and noise pollution. For instance studies in the Bruce, Elementary school are almost impossible because of the immense noises that come from the highways near the school.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Amal. “More Highways, More Problems.” The Texas Observer, 21 Aug. 2019, Accessed 27 Aug. 2019.

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