The Reimagine I-10 Study (Widening I-10): Public comment until July 15th

TXDOT has proposed frontage roads and an unnecessary expansion of l-10 from Copia to Schuster that will take about $100 million worth of property and place more high speed traffic, and the added noise, vibrations, and pollution, closer to low income and historical neighborhoods.


TXDOT has said that this expansion and frontage road proposal is driven by need, stating that 1) the existing roadway needs to be rebuilt; 2) this portion of l-10, especially the Trench, the portion directly Downtown, is a choke point and will get worse. This portion of roadway last was worked on about 30 years old, and may indeed need reconstruction. But as for the second claim … 


This stretch of I-10 is one of the least congested major urban roadways in the state. [note: citation for statement of “least congested”: https://mobility.tamu.edu/texas-most-congested-roadways/ … scroll down the page to the list, click on any list item, and then click on “By District” … l-10 actually dropped in the rankings from the previous year, and the estimated dollar value of the losses from traffic is about 1/100 or less of the proposed project cost] 


If anything, the choke points are at the Spaghetti Bowl or further east and west. Using the entire region for through traffic should be the regional priority, along with permanently removing tolls from the Border West highway, which is parallel to I-10. That will further distribute traffic away from the urban heart of the City. 


Most immediately, we should be focused on the Northeast Borderland Expressway, which will be a necessary relief route during any I-10 construction and has the long-term potential to make full use of the  Pass of the North. 


We are known as the Pass of the North not only because of the box canyon west of Downtown. The Pass is the region, which offers multiple east-west routes; the most direct and accessible is the Anthony Gap. The Northeast Borderland Expressway would take traffic from Far East El Paso via Loop 375 and up through the Gap, making it a significant urban bypass route. 
The freeway literally bulldozed a path through the heart of the city in the late 1960s, diminishing property values for generations, tearing neighborhoods apart, and disproportionately affecting low-income and minority residents with pollution and flooding and other byproducts of the highway.

Miguel Juarez has explored this in his dissertation, “From Concordia to Lincoln Park, an Urban History of Highway Building in El Paso, Texas” [https://scholarworks.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI10813963/]. 


Cotton, Piedras, Copia – all are great streets that should connect neighborhoods on both sides of the freeway, instead of further dividing them. A great City is made up of great neighborhoods. 


We are always open to learning more about the planning process, and the possibilities ahead, as well as the cost – and looking forward to seeing what alternatives TXDOT and its consultants have developed – but our position on the project as proposed is quite simple: 


The Sunset Heights Neighborhood Association, as well as other citizens, oppose taking property and placing high speed traffic, with its noise, vibrations, and pollution, closer to low income and historical neighborhoods for an unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming expansion and frontage roads.


Here is an El Paso Times article about the virtual open house: 
https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2020/06/23/downtown-el-paso-interstate-10-expansion-project-planning-starts-with-virtual-open-house/3224925001/


And here is some context, from Houston, where they face a freeway expansion backed by Downtown businesses that want a deck park … 
Bolstered by racial justice debate, critics of I-45 project call for protection of vulnerable communities
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Bolstered-by-racial-justice-debate-critics-of-15353424.php

Virtual Public Meeting Scheduled for Downtown 10 until July 15th

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) El Paso District has scheduled a virtual public meeting for Downtown 10. The project is the first to stem from the District’s Reimagine I-10 Study and encompasses the area of I-10 from Executive Center Boulevard to State Loop 478 (Copia Street). The proposed project is approximately 5.7 miles in length.

The Virtual Public Meeting will be available online beginning Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 5 p.m. (MST)/6 p.m. (CST) and will stay open until the comment period ends on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 5 p.m. (MST)/6 p.m. (CST). It will consist of a pre-recorded presentation and can be accessed on the Public Meeting #1 link during the active period. People without internet access, may call (512) 567-9270 for access options. If you have a disability and need assistance, special arrangements can also be made to accommodate most needs, please call (915) 201-9414 no later than Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Written comments may be submitted by mail to the TxDOT El Paso District Office, Attn: Downtown 10, 13301 Gateway West, El Paso, Texas 79928-5410. Electronic comments may be submitted by email or through the Virtual Public Meeting Site. Additionally, members of the public may call (915) 209-0027 and leave recorded comments. All comments must be received, emailed, or postmarked on or before Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Responses to comments will be available online at TxDOT.gov (keyword: “Downtown 10”) and at the Reimagine I-10 project website once prepared. 

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