August 01, 2006
Richmond rail rally today

From in the inbox:

Richmond rail supporters to hold counter-rally at 9:00 am Tuesday right outside Culberson press event
Culberson presumes to "announce his decision" Tuesday regarding rail on Richmond

Houston, TX Aug 1, 2006 Congressman John Culberson continues to conspire with opponents of public transit to kill rail on Richmond. He will be the "keynote speaker" at their anti-Richmond rally and press briefing at James Coney Island on Tuesday at 10:00 am.

Show up at 9:00 am and get the other side of the story!
Richmond Rail supporters will hold a counter demonstration right outside at 9:00 am Tuesday to show our disgust with the Congressman and our support for rail on Richmond.

What: Richmond rail supporters' counter-rally outside Culberson's press event

When: Tuesday August 1 from 9:00 to 10:00 am

Where: 3607 Shepherd Dr. at Richmond Avenue (77098) on the sidewalk in front of James Coney Island

It's time for John Culberson to answer some tough questions!
Why does John Culberson presume "to decide" the fate of the Universities line?!?

Why is John Culberson working with a handful of NIMBYs from just one or two neighborhoods? John Culberson took an oath to represent his entire district, and the Universities rail project will affect all Houstonians. But he's here today with a small group of anti-rail leaders from Afton Oaks. Why?

Why is John Culberson pandering to fear mongerers?
Richmond rail opponents continue to claim that rail will hurt traffic while METRO has now shown that NO traffic lanes will be lost and nearly every left turn will remain. Rail opponents have personally terrified small business owners on Richmond with false claims that METRO has now refuted, but Culberson is standing firm.

Why is John Culberson suddenly a new champion of displaced businesses?
John Culberson personally oversaw the condemnation of more than 480 properties to expand the Katy Freeway -- including Courtesy Chevrolet, Ciro's, 90% of Spring Valley's commercial tax base, and others -- all to "improve mobility." In contrast, METRO has now shown they can run rail down Richmond to bring urban transit to Greenway Plaza and the Galleria by taking only 8 properties, one of which is vacant and one an "adult" bookstore, but Culberson "won't let that happen." Why???

Why won't Culberson support urgently-needed urban transit for central Houston?
Two weeks ago, Culberson's House committee awarded $700 million to Dallas for another 45 miles of light rail, doubling the size of their system. But back in Houston, Culberson co-chaired Texans for True Mobility which fought the METRO referendum and he has failed to deliver the federal funds Houston is depending on.

Is anyone surprised that Culberson will pursue the anti-Richmond agenda? Didn't think so. Click the More link for a press release from the Citizens Transportation Coalition.

UPDATE: The following is a press release from Jim Henley:

Jim Henley, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congressional District 7 strongly supports the development of light rail in Houston. Mayor Bill White, City Council, and METRO, recognizing the importance of transportation to the economic and environmental vitality of the city, have undertaken an open and inclusive evaluation process to determine appropriate locations for light rail lines. The current debate over the proposed locations of the University rail line is an important issue for our city and its continued growth and prosperity. Under Mayor White's leadership the process to choose the final route of the University line should continue as started, at a local level. The interference of Rep. John Culberson in this process is suspect given his long history of opposition to rail in Houston and the proximity of the November election.

CTC Press Release:

In a media advisory Monday, Congressman John Culberson says he will "announce his position on METRO's proposals to build light rail along Richmond Avenue" on Tuesday. Why? Federal law says the route alignment decision rests with METRO and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Houston's City Charter says routes will also be approved by City Council. These laws call for local control!

Back in March, Houston Mayor White told a crowd at St. Luke's that "we make our best decisions when we listen to each other," and "this won't be the end of the conversation." Houston City Council Members Anne Clutterbuck, Ada Edwards, and Pam Holm have held 9 METRO forums and dozens of small meetings that brought out thousands of Houstonians.

Houston's local elected leaders are clearly committed to engaging the public and building consensus on this important project that will shape Houston for decades to come. Even now, the Council Members are working directly with the City of Houston Planning Department to engage stakeholders in planning all five urban transit corridors.

But local authority isn't good enough for John Culberson. And given that METRO has not yet recommended the best alignment for the Universities line, you might conclude Culberson simply opposes the entire concept of expanding urban transit in Houston:

What: Rep. Culberson anti-Richmond rail press event

When: Tues Aug 1, 2006 at 10:00 am

Where: James Coney Island, Richmond store
3607 South Shepherd Dr., Houston, 77098

"Why does Culberson -- who lives in Arlington, Virginia -- keep coming back to meddle in local decision making?" asks Adra Hooks, a Castle Court resident. The federally-required planning process tasks METRO and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with deciding the best route, and that process is scheduled to go until December. Culberson continues to politicize a process that should be based on informed public dialogue and fact-based analysis.

Many organizations have called on METRO to build for Houston's future by studying all of the options in an open and fair public process, and making the best technical decision possible. These include the Citizens' Transportation Coalition, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Intown Chamber of Commerce, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Museum District Business Alliance (MDBA), the West Houston Association, and others.

Houstonians deserve the best urban transit system we can build, that serves central Houston's businesses, universities, institutions, and neighborhoods. That means duly considering all possible choices of where to put rail. John Culberson has no right to prematurely select a route to suit his political needs.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 01, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Fascinating that the pro/against rail debate is being held among those who do not use METRO service.
What is more fascinating is the most people forget that METRO is providing a "transit" service and this service is already existing on the Richmond or other alignments. Thus the real debate is on the type of mode and not whether to have transit or not.
There is a very interesting difference between existing bus service vs. the new rail service - the subsidy of ridership. I think it is simple math, just find out what will be the difference and migth find out why rail could not be the smartest choice.
I tend to support the Westpark alignment but build it on Richmond and eventually we shall see what happens.

Posted by: Gonzalo Camacho on August 1, 2006 3:01 AM

Is anyone surprised that Culberson will pursue the anti-Richmond agenda?

It's very fiery rhetoric you've blockquoted, but since the Congressman's office has refused to tell even Rad Sallee (and certainly not lowly bloggers like yours truly) what his announcement is going to be, I am surprised that people here already know what he's going to announce. I wish I did, so I could just skip the announcement and get some work done.

Can I get ya'll to put some of that supernatural ability to work on the stock market or sports books? We'll make a killing!

Posted by: Kevin Whited on August 1, 2006 7:27 AM

The Congressman's email included a link to this site:

Looks like no rail on Richmond to me.

What else would he announce? Another cost overrun on the Katy Freeway?

Posted by: Christof Spieler on August 1, 2006 7:48 AM


Would you like to bet cash money that Culbertson is gonna come out with a statement in support of rail on Richmond? His track record doesn't suggest that that's very likely.

He's done very well politically supporting suburban interests over urban interests and I don't see a switch being in the interest of the people who support him financially, so why would anyone expect anything different now?

Posted by: Michael on August 1, 2006 8:43 AM

I applaud the good Congressman for standing up to the pro-urban rail bullies. The vast majority of taxpayers within the METRO service area are being shortchanged by METRO's "Bait & Switch" tacticts.

Not another dime of precious taxpayer resources should be squandered on wasteful, unsafe, unreliable, and underutilized urban trams.

Posted by: Tom Bazan on August 1, 2006 8:16 PM

Gonzalo Camacho said:

"Fascinating that the pro/against rail debate is being held among those who do not use METRO service.
What is more fascinating is the most people forget that METRO is providing a "transit" service and this service is already existing on the Richmond or other alignments. Thus the real debate is on the type of mode and not whether to have transit or not".

Yes it is fascinating, is it not Mr. Camacho? But that is what you get when you politicize your transportation decisions and not have the market handle them, is it not?

What I mean by that statement is that when you point the gun at the taxpayer's face, demand tribute in the form of taxes, but then say that they can have a political voice in what is done with them, then those who fight the hardest to control that gun are those who get to say what the rules are going to be.

Sadly, most public transit riders are too poor, too tired, and disintertested to fight this issue. And just how do I know this? Because I was part of a group that tried to do just that in Houston. It was an incredibly frustrating experience trying to organize bus riders to stand up for themselves, even as their routes were being cut by Metro in order to make sure enough operational money was still available to keep light rail running.

As a member of the anti-rail camp, one of my comments I have been constantly making is that Metro has run bus routes down Richmond and Westpark for decades. Too bad the pro-rail people never seemed to have noticed this, or perhaps they are following David Crossley's mantra that there MUST be "high quality" public transit - i.e. rail. Buses just arent' good enough for their tastes.

Posted by: Neal Meyer on August 2, 2006 5:11 PM

I live 1 street from the ricmond rail proposed site. Let's see....1 rail every 7 minutes, until close to midnight. seems like the noise pollution level is going to go up. I oppose the rail scheme on richmond. The coordination of lights to accomodate the train will make it harder and longer to get home and the resulting congestion seems to be a threat to my quiet neighborhood. I don't oppose a rail, I oppose a Richmond rail.

Posted by: ted vorster on August 22, 2006 9:33 PM