This should come as no surprise to anyone.
Metro has evaluated Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck's suggestion that part of its future University light rail line be suspended over the Southwest Freeway, and the results are hardly a surprise.
In the segment from Dunlavy to Edloe, the "cantilevered" tracks over the north side of the freeway would cost more than twice as much as Metro's proposed ground-level route in the middle of Richmond Avenue and would attract fewer than half as many riders, the agency estimates.
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The numbers, which Metro says were generated using the same procedures required for Federal Transit Administration funding applications, are: $215 million over the freeway vs. $90 million for the Richmond alignment, and 700 riders a day over the freeway compared with 1,600 for Richmond.
Clutterbuck said Friday that she had not advocated the freeway route, which was suggested to her by some residents.
"I asked Metro to look at this so that we would know they had done their due diligence," she said. "And now the process will go forward."
Consultant Janet Kennison told the board that Metro had received 2,600 comments (57 percent) for Westpark or against Richmond, and 2,000 (43 percent) for Richmond or against Westpark.
"We had an awful lot of feedback," she said.
Culberson also got feedback recently from officials of the Greater Houston Partnership, the West Houston Association and the North Houston Association.
The three groups sent letters responding to his request that Metro drop Richmond from its route evaluations.
Although each organization sent its own letter, and each was signed by a different person, the three were in uncanny accord that " ... the most financially competitive, technically competent alignment that maximizes ridership potential will best serve the greater Houston community."
Proving that great minds not only think alike, they sometimes write alike.
WHA Board of Directors Addresses METRO's University Rail Alignment in July, 2006 Letter to Congressman Culberson.
"The Board of Directors of the West Houston Association has a history of interest and involvement in the planning and support for transportation projects that impact the West Houston Region. Therefore, we have considered the recent proposals by METRO for light rail in the University Corridor. While the line that is the subject of the current debate is not within our sphere of interest, we are confident the outcome of this matter will dictate whether or not West Houston will, in the future, have a another major transit line extending into the western suburbs of the West Houston Region, supplementing the I-10 High Occupancy Transit Lanes (HOT).
The Board believes that the most financially competitive, technically competent alignment that maximizes ridership potential will best serve the greater Houston community and should be chosen by METRO. The needs of the overall community should come before the desires and interests of a small group of residents and businesses. While their interests should be considered, these individual interests must not dictate progress for the community as a whole.
Recent history informs us that to provide greater mobility for the largest number of people, some will unfortunately not be pleased with the solution. In the short term, a few most affected by a particular decision will find progress for the overall community will not be in alignment with their individual desires. However, that does not, and should not, mean that we cannot have progress if that project meets or exceeds our collective demands for mobility, efficiency and quality, and the greater good is served.
Examples of the greater good being served are found in practically every major public infrastructure project— Interstate 10 reconstruction, Bayport Terminal, and Intercontinental Airport expansion are recent examples. As you know so well, in each case every effort was made to minimize negative impacts, however there were those in close proximity to these projects who were and remain opposed, no matter the rationale. Our region is going to grow by 4,000,000 persons over the next 30 years with the majority of them locating in the western half of the region. We will face these problems repeatedly, but in the end, those charged with leadership must make the decision that is the right decision for the region.
The future of an efficient transportation system in West Houston must involve transit as well as a full complement of freeways, tollways and major thoroughfares. To meet this goal, we believe the long-term future of West Houston is best served if we preserve the option for transit in the Richmond/Westpark Corridor west to northern Fort Bend County. Choosing a less than optimum alignment in the existing University line may not only foreclose a future link to West Houston, it may well jeopardize funding for the entire University line.
We appreciate your leadership on mobility issues and particularly on the Interstate 10 project. We believe difficult bold decisions and leadership can and will continue to make a difference as the Houston region plans and implements future mobility projects."