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Photo of proposed $10B highway expansion in Houston sparks debate online: 'Almost as if they want our cities to fail'

"You can't make more land, but we can certainly use it better."

"You can't make more land, but we can certainly use it better."

Photo Credit: X

Highways serve many needs, from transportation to economic growth. However, sometimes increasing infrastructure can cause more problems. 

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), a photo compares the current landscape of Houston, Texas, to a city overrun with highways surrounding the metropolis. 

"Good to know in 2024, Houston's mayor and city council voted today on expanding highways through downtown. I'm sure one more lane will fix it, this time," the original poster captioned in the post. 

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, Interstate 45 (I-45) is being rebuilt and expanded to accommodate Houston's metro region of more than 7.5 million people in a project that will cost taxpayers $10 billion. The interstate hasn't received updates since the 1970s, including wide shoulders for emergencies or smoother curves for intersections.  

After nearly 20 years of discussions, officials from the Texas Department of Transportation have decided to add two managed lanes in each direction, as well as rebuild the highway system surrounding Houston. The expanded I-45 will parallel I-10 north of Houston's central business district and run toward the east side of downtown on I-69.   

"It's good to destroy more of the city for another highway widening. I'm sure this will be the last expansion," said original poster Hayden Clarkin (@the_transit_guy) of Houston city officials sarcastically for making the decision.

There is much debate about highway expansions in the United States. A new poll revealed that many Americans were against expanding highways to reduce congestion, preferring investments in public transportation and walkable communities instead.

Highway pollution is a significant concern, especially for those living near busy roads. Transportation releases 28% of the air pollution in the United States per year, and research has shown that traffic-related air pollution can lead to severe health issues including respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cognitive decline.

A study from Emory University found that people living in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution are more likely to develop dementia. Houston residents expressed concern the metro region will be exposed to similar issues. 

Prioritizing other forms of transportation, such as biking or walking, can reduce air pollution while keeping communities active and healthy. Scotland, for example, is set to create "20-minute neighborhoods." The desire for walkable cities, in Houston and beyond, is strong. 

"You can't make more land, but we can certainly use it better," commented one X user. 

"It's almost as if they want our cities to fail," wrote another. 

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