Alliance Houston, Stop TxDOT I-45, LINK Houston, Texas Appleseed, and Texas Housers filed a complaint on Thursday, December 16, 2021 with the Federal Highway Administration alleging TxDOT violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7, and U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) implementing regulations, 49 C.F.R. Part 21 on the I-45 project in Houston, Texas.

On March 8, 2021, the Texas Division of the FHWA wrote to TxDOT requesting that the agency pause further contract solicitation efforts for the NHHIP to allow the federal agency “time to evaluate the serious Title VI concerns” raised by complaints it received from the public and an elected official.

Despite this letter, TxDOT continued to pursue right of way acquisition; threatening homeowners who refused to sell with eminent domain proceedings. Then, on June 14, 2021, FHWA issued a letter to TxDOT instructing it to “pause” right-of-way acquisitions, including solicitations, negotiations, eminent domain, and final design activities, because TxDOT had continued residential acquisition; including by threatening individual homeowners with the use of eminent domain if they refused to sell. According to a November 29, 2021 letter from the FHWA, TxDOT is allowed to acquire property through market negotiations, but at this time cannot rely on its eminent-domain power. You can read more on this update here:

The groups allege TxDOT is not in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or DOT and FHWA implementing regulations. Further, they argue that TxDOT has failed to consider environmental justice and civil rights concerns about and understand that civil rights requirements are broadly applicable to all its project activities

You can read their full complaint here:

In conclusion, the groups say TXDOT “project goals do not counterbalance civil rights issues; improving transportation must be pursued in a way that is non-discriminatory and does not result in disproportionate and adverse impacts on protected populations.”

Despite these challenges, TxDOT appears to be moving forward with the I-45 project. If history provides us with any lessons, TxDOT will very likely use its eminent-domain power to take private property along I-45. Landowners should protect their property rights by consulting with an eminent-domain lawyer.