March 23, 2002
Road versus rail, round 438

Proponents of the Katy Freeway expansion are howling in protest at a request by Metro to reserve space for a light rail line. sigh This is really painful to watch. We study rail feasibility to death but are chomping at the bit to spend zillions of dollars and more than five years to make I-10 wider than the state of Delaware.

What really galls me is that Metro's critics have a point when they say our transit department has little credibility. Metro is, sadly, not very well run and in dire need of strong leadership. People are finally coming around to the idea that we can't pave our way out of mobility problems. There's never been a better time to make the case for rail, but here we are stuck with Shirley DeLibero and Lee Brown, neither of whom are taken seriously by ruling Republicans like the county commissioners.

Having a GOP-friendly mayor like Orlando Sanchez wouldn't have helped, since he's anti-rail in the first place. What we need is someone in charge of Metro with credibility in the bidness world, someone who speaks the same language as Steve Radack and John Culberson, someone who will aggressively sell the merits of rail to homeowners and businesses. I think we have such a person: former mayor Bob Lanier. Lanier came into office by attacking then-Mayor Kathy Whitmire's plan for a monorail system, but he favored the downtown rail line and I believe is generally for sensible alternatives to more roadways. Could it hurt to ask him to step in and lend a hand before it's too late?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 23, 2002 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles