On May 10, 2021, Fred Wagner was quoted in Politico on a Texas highway expansion project that is being reviewed by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) for potential civil rights and environmental justice issues.
According to the article, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg referred to the contentious project as “a massive highway expansion that threatens to remove homes and businesses from a minority neighborhood, takes us in the wrong direction in terms of climate goals.” She called it a “great example of the very things I think the Biden administration is looking to do a better job on in transportation policy,” and praised her boss, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for “asking the right questions” and considering different approaches.
DOT has asked the Texas transportation agency to pause its work on the expansion while the federal review is ongoing, and local advocates and the county containing Houston have sued the state over the project.
Wagner told Politico that next steps in what is a largely unprecedented process could include DOT ordering Texas to redo its analysis of the project or, more drastically, fully rejecting it under civil rights laws. Trottenberg's comments suggest the agency isn't likely to let Texas off the hook.
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