Christof continues his tour of the Universities line route options, this time with a look at the Neartown area, which as we know wants the line built on Richmond. He's got the usual maps and diagrams to make everything clearer, but I want to highlight a couple of things.
[T]he Richmond alignment...provides a broad swath of transit accessibility through Neartown -- basically, everything south of Alabama is within walking distance. That includes a lot of people and a lot of retail and restaurants; it also includes the Menil and St. Thomas.
The location of the center station is an interesting question. The community petitioned METRO last year for a station between Montrose and Shepherd, and METRO's been showing one since, at Dunlavy. That location nicely fills the gap, putting a lot more places within reach of transit, and the Neartown Association has endorsed it. But an equally good argument can be made for locating this station at Mandell, closer to the Menil and the Richmont Square apartments. This is related to the location of the Montrose station, too: METRO shows it straddling Montrose, but Neartown would like to see it to the west of Montrose, closer to UST and the Menil. That's a discussion that's already happening, but it has more urgency now as METRO moves closer to a locally preferred alignment.
There's a final factor to consider in Neartown: the neighborhood is changing fast. That's been happening for 10 years now, as bungalows get replaced by townhouses. Even more is on the way: there are currently two multi-story apartment and condo projects under construction directly on Richmond just in the Neartown area, and there are surely more to come. These projects aren't coming because of rail, but rail could reduce their impacts by putting new residents on trains instead of in single-occupant cars. Just over a five year period (1996-2001, before 59 construction), the volume of traffic along Richmond here rose more than 15%. The question is not whether we have the status quo or light rail; it's how we handle growth: trains, or more traffic lanes?