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Jay Blazek Crossley

Lets Stop Choosing Risky Roads

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As of 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, 2016, water in the Addicks Dam is 102.17 feet deep, which is 4.67 feet more than the 97.5 foot level the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says should ever be allowed. The current master plan states that a level of 100.5 feet — the highest level said to be possible — will take 49 days to drain, with State Highway 6 presumably underwater during that time.

How did we get to this point? We have built whole neighborhoods in places that we know will flood, and we build whole neighborhoods in places that we know will cause other places to flood more.

While many of our older, more densely populated neighborhoods are suffering from decades of disinvestment and neglect, we are choosing to subsidize massive public spending on new roads and building of new neighborhoods that destroy the ecological resources that manage flooding in our region. This needs to stop now.

IN MARCH 2009, at a meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, Texas Department of Transportation staff member John Barton described Segment E of the Grand Parkway — State Highway 99 — as “an opportunity to open up areas for development in the Greater Houston area.”

From July 2015: The Grand Parkway, cutting north from Katy toward U.S. 290, ran through forests and farmland. The Shoppes at Parkwest/Katy — a mall with big-box stores and vast parking lots — is now being developed in the area. Photo: Smiley N. Pool, Staff / © 2014 Houston Chronicle Photo: Smiley N. Pool, Staff From July 2015: The Grand Parkway, cutting north from Katy toward U.S. 290, ran through forests and farmland. The Shoppes at Parkwest/Katy — a mall with big-box stores and vast parking lots — is now being developed in the area.
The result has been a toll road causing a massive loss of trees and land critical to rainwater absorption. Along with the original Segment D, which made possible hundreds of thousands of new car-dependent homes on top of the Katy Prairie, it’s led to the over-filling of Addicks and Barker dams — both of which are on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ list of the most endangered dams in America.

Some of us tried to stop this decision to put Houston at further risk of flooding. Local Sierra Club members scraped together enough funds to sue unsuccessfully to stop TXDOT. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison made it clear that it was not his place to say whether this decision was wise, but wrote the following now astounding lines:

“There were at least some divisions within the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] who believed the additional runoff from Segment E and its associated development would affect the safety of Addicks Dam…. The court finds that the Corps acted in a manner that was arbitrary and capricious in opining on the effect that Segment E would have on Addicks without considering the cumulative impact.”

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Full Story: Stop building neighborhoods that cause other neighborhoods to flood
Source: Houston Chronicle Grey Matters, April 27, 2016

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