April 18, 2006
Revisiting the Metro referendum

Rad Sallee writes about the state of the battle over where the Universities rail line should be, in particular the fuss over the ballot language from the 2003 referendum that authorized Metro to build the line.

[Metropolitan Transit Authority Board Chairman David] Wolff was ceding no ground to anti-Richmond forces who argue that because the 2003 referendum that authorized six MetroRail extensions designated the line as "Westpark," it must go on Westpark Drive.

Wolff said he wanted to review that point with fellow board members "so that if it comes up for discussion in the community, we will all be well informed."

He noted that the resolution authorizing the 2003 vote identified the corridors in various ways — some by a principal street (Westpark), some by an area of the city (Southeast) and some by both (Uptown/West Loop, North Hardy).

The Westpark corridor is described briefly as "approximately 6.6 miles westward from the Wheeler Station (which is at Richmond on the Main Street line) to the Westpark Transit Center, serving Greenway Plaza, West University, Bellaire and the Uptown/Galleria area."

Three of these locations are closer to Westpark than to Richmond, but two are closer to Richmond.

"At no point does it say that this line would be built on Westpark Drive," Wolff said.

By contrast, he pointed out, the resolution specifies the exact streets for the Uptown/West Loop route: "approximately 4.4 miles north from Westpark along Post Oak Boulevard and the West Loop."

It is the board's responsibility to decide where the University corridor line should run, Wolff said.

"In no way is Metro committed that it will be along any specific street," he said.

Christof has been all over this since that argument first started to gain traction. I have to say, I think there's a straightforward way for this matter to be resolved. If the only-on-Westpark forces are sincere in their beliefs that Metro is ignoring what the referendum authorizes them to do - in other words, if they truly believe Metro is acting illegally by considering routes other than Westpark - then they should file suit to force Metro to do what they say is right. If the ballot language is as clear as they say, then a judge should have no problem granting them an injunction preventing Metro from pursuing the Richmond option. This would not be "judicial activism" if they're correct, it would be enforcing the law as written. If that's what they think, then this is their next step.

The more I look at this, the more I am convinced that Metro is acting within the bounds of the referendum. I think this debate is a distraction, and I think it's time we settle it once and for all. The ball's in your court, folks.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 18, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack


It should not surprise anyone to learn that a law firm has been hired to persue all remedies available to a group of property owners along Richmond who do not want to be run over by the unsafe, unreliable and underutilized METRO urban boondoggle rail.

I am confident that there will be a lawsuit filed to halt METRO until they hold a vote on Richmond.

Posted by: Tom Bazan on April 18, 2006 7:03 AM

If Tom Bazan is confident, then I am confident that the University Line will go where it needs to go. Tom has made a career of being on the losing side of transit issues, so if he sides with the Afton Oaks crowd, we should end up with a well designed allignment on Richmond.

As for a lawsuit, I am reminded of the credo of trial lawyers. When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you don't have the facts, argue the law. When you have neither the facts, nor the law, baffle them with bullsh*t.

Posted by: RedScare on April 18, 2006 8:33 AM