February 17, 2006
Richmond rail meeting at METRO

The METRO meeting to discuss the Universities rail line was very well attended.

Some 350 people arrived in cars, buses and light rail trains Thursday to hear 28 of them advise the Metro board on whether its planned University line should go on Richmond Avenue.

The unofficial score was eight opposed to rail on Richmond, four in favor and 16 wanting the Metropolitan Transit Authority to consider all its options, talk with a lot of people and make a wise decision.

Whatever the board decides late this year, it should "keep the city's long-term best interests in mind" and "build something our children and grandchildren can be proud of," said blogger Tory Gattis.

Gattis also said that if Richmond is the choice instead of Westpark — the designated route in a 2002 referendum on Metro's transit plans that was narrowly approved by voters — the board should appoint "somebody with real power" to advocate for business and residents during construction, and ride herd on contractors to minimize harm.

Metro should also "consider a well-funded 'Support Richmond Business' campaign," Gattis said.

As previously noted, Gattis summarized his remarks here. Robin Holzer has some more in depth coverage here. Christof was one of the sixteen who spoke in favor of letting the process work. There's some discussion of the meeting in this Houston Architecture Forum thread as well. I'm encouraged that as many people as did spoke in favor of looking at all available options and making a sound decision based on that rather than on emotion and political expediency.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 17, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

It's worth noting that the referendum did refer to a "Westpark line," but it did not specify a route -- it specified a corridor. METRO said then that studies would be required to determine exact alignments. That's what's happening now. And obviously the line can't follow Westpark between Kirby and Main -- there is no Westpark between Kirby and Main. The referendum didn't say "Richmond" -- but it didn't say "that narrow strip of land where the powerlines are south of 59" or "inside the 59 freeway trench" either. We voted for a system and a process, not an alignment.

Posted by: Christof Spieler on February 17, 2006 11:46 AM

No one thinks that Metro has plans already drawn and just going by the federally mandiated guidelines...Smiley Maddox. Reporter/KPFT 90.1F.M.

Posted by: Smiley on February 17, 2006 11:58 AM

The unofficial score was eight opposed to rail on Richmond, four in favor

Yeah, but what does this really mean? Public meetings like this always draw a lot more opponents and NIMBYs than supporters anyway.

Posted by: Tim on February 17, 2006 1:08 PM

Tim: to put the score another way, 8 speakers who said that the Richmond option should be eliminated, 20 speakers who said that Richmond should stay on the table. If you like the Richmond option, that should sound pretty good to you. I think Richmond is likely the best option, but I'm not going to make up my mind until I see some more information on right-of-way requirements, costs, and ridership, so I'm part of the 16.

Smiley: For what it's worth, METRO made significant changes to the Main Street alignment during the study process (i.e. rail on Main through Midtown instead of on Fannin / San Jacinto) based on neighborhood input.

Posted by: Christof Spieler on February 17, 2006 5:01 PM

The rail should go where the people are, on WESTHEIMER, not Richmond or Westpark. Richmond is a beautiful 4-lane road with esplanade and should not be ruined. Westheimer is a narrow road with parking allowed between Dunlavy and Mandell, which means it's only 1 lane. Rail on Westheimer is the only route that makes sense and will help alleviate traffic in and out of the Galleria.

Posted by: Montrose Dweller on November 9, 2006 9:42 PM