June 13, 2006
The Northside Intermodal Transit Center proposal

The public meeting for the proposed Intermodal Transit Center north of downtown was this weekend. Here's what Metro unveiled.

The terminal would be a half-mile north of the University of Houston-Downtown, where the existing MetroRail Red Line now ends, on a site bounded by Naylor, Burnett and San Jacinto streets and White Oak Bayou.

The centerpiece is a 400-foot-wide circular plaza, tentatively designated "the Great Space," where transit riders would disembark into a setting with greenery, an open-air market and other amenities.

[Metro's director of architecture and urban design Jim] Gast showed slides of Jackson Square in New Orleans, Rome's Spanish Steps and DuPont Circle in Washington D.C. as examples of what such plazas can mean to a city.

As a transit hub, he said, the terminal would become the new north end of the Red Line, whose tracks would rise about 30 feet onto the plaza.

To continue north, riders would descend to street level and transfer to the planned North Line, whose buses on guideways would leave the terminal on its west side and curve north to North Main.

If ridership grows enough to justify converting the North Line to light rail, its tracks would enter the terminal complex directly on North Main and connect to the Red Line, Gast said.

Metro's planned East End and Southeast guided rapid transit lines, which would also be converted to light rail as ridership increased, would enter the terminal complex from the east.

Eventual commuter rail lines from U.S. 290 and the Katy Freeway would enter from the west. Union Pacific would also continue to operate freight tracks there.

For buses, Gast said, there would be four bays initially and room for another 10.

North of the plaza would be the rail and bus terminals - enclosed structures with restrooms - and to the south would be parking lots that Gast said could hold 2,000 vehicles.

Drivers heading out of downtown on North Main could take any of three options: a bypass for through traffic on the terminal's west side; a pickup-and-dropoff route on its east side via Naylor, San Jacinto and Burnett; or nearby San Jacinto, which would be improved to handle more traffic.

So the existing light rail line would be extended north of UH-Downtown to this terminus, where it would connect to the proposed BRTs (now apparently also called "guided rapid transit lines"). I don't see anything here about space for relocating the Midtown Greyhound bus terminal. I'm guessing that would ratchet up the opposition to this plan considerably - judging from the article, right now there's not much animus, just the usual concerns from local businessfolk who might be affected by construction.

There's also no mention of a time frame in the story for this; going back to my archives, I see we're talking 2011 or 2012. That's assuming all goes more or less as planned, of course. I figure the fight over the Universities rail line is distracting some attention from this project, so perhaps we'll see more of that once a location for that line has been determined. Or maybe not - this may wind up being much less controversial. Hard to see how it could be more, after all.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 13, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Who manufactures the Signature guided rapid transit vehicles?

Posted by: Robert Browning on September 23, 2006 2:26 PM