I swear, I didn't write this Chron editorial about the Universities DEIS, which I managed to not see until last night, but judging from all the points they chose to make, I apparently could have.
Having the rail run from Main along Richmond and then across to Westpark by way of Cummins or Greenway Plaza offers the most ridership with the least cost and disruption of neighborhoods. Both of these routes would bypass Afton Oaks, a stronghold of anti-rail sentiment, connect with the Galleria and draw Houstonians beyond the West Loop into the system.
The study also indicates that on the portion of the route east of Main, a route down Wheeler to Texas Southern University, then jogging north to Elgin and on to the University of Houston, would be preferable. Although some neighborhood groups have favored running the line down Elgin or West Alabama, Wheeler would be the cheapest and most rider-friendly route.
The study undercuts many of the arguments made against rail on Richmond. It found the competing route, along the Southwest Freeway to Westpark and championed by Culberson, would displace more residents and businesses, cost more to build and carry fewer riders.
Building on Richmond would be less disruptive of traffic than constructing support pillars along the freeway and removing a lane from frontage roads. Worse, that would require the removal of the outside shoulder of the southbound freeway. Texas Department of Transportation officials state this would violate freeway safety standards.
Perhaps the most spurious argument against rail on Richmond is that the public referendum approving expanded rail called for it to run in the Westpark Corridor. A line running from Richmond onto Westpark matches the ballot description as closely as one running along the Southwest Freeway to Westpark.
What is striking about all the Metro options is how few properties would be affected, unlike the Katy Freeway expansion and the proposed widening of Highway 290, projects that many rail opponents embraced. For some politicians, it would appear that when it comes to road and rail, there are different standards for what is acceptable inconvenience for the public.