August 19, 2008
Good news coming for Metro?

This sounds promising.

The U.S. transportation secretary will announce "good news" regarding expanding transit in Houston Tuesday, a spokeswoman said. Metro has asked the agency to pay for half of two planned light rail lines.

The announcement by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters will be at 10 a.m. near the University of Houston-Downtown on North Main.

"We wouldn't be coming there to announce bad news," said the spokeswoman, declining to elaborate.

The site of Peters' announcement will be the northern end of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Red Line light rail tracks. Metro's planned North Line would link to them and continue to Northline Mall.


Metro spokeswoman Raequel Roberts said she she does not know what Peters will announce.

It's after 10 AM now, so I presume this announcement has already happened, but as yet I can't find anything more current. When I do, I'll update.

UPDATE: Thanks to Christof in the comments, this is what it was all about.

Right now, it takes longer to get federal approval for local transit projects than it does to put a man on the moon.

But if the Bush administration's reform proprosal passes, Houston, along with other cities, will be able to navigate a streamlined process to design and build new transit and highway projects.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters made those remarks at a METRO news conference today at the University of Houston-Downtown campus, on North Main St. and Rothwell. The photo here shows Peters talking to Frank J. Wilson, METRO's president & CEO, before the news conference started.

"Houston will no longer have to slice and dice every dollar. Indeed, it will have a level playing field....Does the project justify the investment of federal tax dollars? Local officials will be free to make investments based on their needs," said Peters, adding that economic merit, not political influence will determine if federal grants flow to local projects.

"Money won't get squandered on projects that do very little to improve transit," continued Peters. "That's bad news for those who build bridges to nowhere."

Not exactly what I had in mind, but not bad. The perhaps unintentional slam against Sen. Ted Stevens is amusing.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 19, 2008 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

A quick search of the news reveals Peters made the same speech that she made in Houston calling for a Metro Mobility Program in Salt Lake City and St. Louis over the past 48 hours.

I guess they were correct when they said they wouldn't come to Houston to announce bad news. Instead, they came to Houston to announce no news whatsoever.

Posted by: Mike on August 19, 2008 4:54 PM

Posted by: Christof Spieler on August 19, 2008 8:51 PM

Well, I agree the current system is broken, but I would say the devil is in the details for this sort of thing. I don't trust anything from George W. Bush or Mary Peters when it comes to supporting mass transit. I would rather have the government and the next Congress decide to spend more money overall on infrastructure, possibly raise the gas tax, and have a streamlined approval process for mass-transit projects.


Posted by: Mike on August 19, 2008 11:08 PM
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