The Future of El Paso’s Highways

TxDOT’s Downtown Hwy Expansion is a Bad Idea

Smart sustainable transportation that supports local and regional residents. We all benefit when it’s easy to walk, bike, roll, and take public transit in El Paso.

Community groups including Eco El Paso, Sunrise El Paso, the Sierra Club, Velo Paso, Sunset Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association, and Rio Grande Neighborhood Association have raised concerns about the I-10 expansion project with TxDOT. We feel there are alternative solutions to this project and evidence that TxDOT’s proposed project would harm El Paso and ignore the needs of our local residents.

TxDOT has proposed to widen I-10 between Copia and Executive Center, a project called Downtown 10. One requirement in the project development process is to review the potential impact on the community, including the effect on environmental and cultural resources. TxDOT originally proposed doing an Environmental Assessment (EA), a relatively low level of review compared to the more extensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). However, because of community pushback, TxDOT is now undergoing EIS; this begins with scoping, which according to the EPA is “the period in which the federal agency and the public collaborate to define the range of issues and potential alternatives to be addressed in the EIS.”  Click Here To Read More

TxDOT recently completed Border West, a highway parallel to I-10. As TxDOT considers how to improve I-10, a major source of regional air pollution, the community has an opportunity to prioritize health and safety. Stay tuned for opportunities to comment!

Why is this plan a bad idea for El Paso?

This should be an opportunity to truly explore alternatives to the TxDOT plan. Major highway projects offer an opportunity to address longstanding inequities and restore urban neighborhoods ripped apart by urban highways. Only 50 years ago, construction wiped out homes and businesses and destroyed neighborhoods, typically low-income and minority. This legacy has imposed pollution, noise, vibrations, flooding, and heat island effect on these neighborhoods.

Given this history, and the plain language describing a collaboration on issues and alternatives, the EIS must do more than simply check boxes to allow TxDOT to push forward with a plan that produces more traffic, pollution, and other negative effects.

We should look at every option, including improving mass transit for everyone. We need to provide pathways and incentives for truck traffic not to go through the heart of the City. We need to reduce the need for I-10 to carry so much of the burden regionally, and we need a true bypass around the City. We need to reduce air emissions, noise, and vibration for the communities most affected. We need actual air monitoring, not simulations. We need to reduce speed to increase safety. We need to reconnect neighborhoods east of Downtown, especially between Piedras and Copia.

There are numerous options to reduce highway congestion, such as using the highways around the city for traffic such as 18-wheelers and those traveling through the city and not to the city. Cramming more cars, more pollution, more noise, encroaching upon the historical district and residential communities, and destroying homes, businesses, and apartment buildings for an access road is not the right solution for our city. Every city in Texas has unique needs and widening a highway is not the solution for El Paso. Adding lanes to highways in Houston and Dallas didn’t reduce traffic, it just widened the traffic and condensed it, creating more pollution and increasing the problem for local residents.

VIDEOHow Highways Make Traffic Worse

Reimagine I-10 Highway Expansion Proposal & Study by TXDOT

Links to TXDOT Sites:

Reimagine I-10 – El Paso, TX 

Reimagine I-10 Project by TXDOT – Texas Department of Transportation

TxDOT is conducting an advanced planning study for the I-10 corridor from the New Mexico State Line south to FM 3380 (Aguilera International Highway). The purpose of the study is to analyze and evaluate the current and future transportation needs for the I-10 El Paso corridor. This study is being called “Reimagine I-10” to emphasize the need to reimagine how the corridor operates today and develop unique solutions for the El Paso area. Reimagine I-10 Link

With five U.S. and Mexico ports of entry in the study limits and with the use of I-10 as a major east/west freight corridor, the importance of this corridor is far-reaching. Furthermore, El Paso is experiencing significant growth and development, but because of its unique geographical location El Paso is limited to any alternative routing options, which ultimately puts more demand on to I-10.

The Reimagine I-10 feasibility study consists of three layers of study for improvement: operational, corridor-wide and technological. Within each layer, solutions such as ramp consolidation, additional capacity and truck platooning will be considered. 

Study Limits

The study area spans 55 miles, from the border of Texas and New Mexico to Tornillo. It includes more than 200 bridge structures.

For study purposes, the corridor has been segmented into four areas to identify unique issues specific to each segment:

  • Northern Gateway
  • Downtown El Paso
  • Airport
  • Southern Gateway
  • Study Schedule

The project is currently in the alternative evaluation and development phase of project development and this includes:

  • Alternative design development
  • Environmental constraints evaluation
  • Traffic and operational analysis
  • Identification of technology applications
  • Implementation planning
  • Continued stakeholder outreach

Additional Information

Additional information and study progress can be found at Reimagine I-10.

Study Outreach and Participation

Throughout the study, TxDOT offers various opportunities for the public to get involved, including stakeholder workshops, event kiosks and open house meetings. Your involvement and input are critical to the project’s development. The comments you provide are essential to TxDOT and will help identify the ways the project could potentially impact you, your community and the environment. 

Contact TxDOT:

TxDOT El Paso District
13301 Gateway Blvd. West
El Paso, Tx 79928-5410
(915) 790-4200

Why do we need Smart Sustainable Transportation in El Paso? 

El Paso needs to think about transportation today and what we need over the next 50+ years as we shift, grow, and change. We need:

  1. Sustainable transportation
  2. Transportation access for all
  3. Sustainable Low/No Carbon
  4. Electrified Transportation
  5. Quiet Transportation
  6. Reduce Climate Change
  7. City / County/ Individual Level
  8. Re-route unnecessary traffic, noise, and pollution around the city to improve the quality of life of local residents