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Metro to break ground on North and Southeast lines

Woo hoo!

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County will be breaking ground July 13 on the next phase of the MetroRail.

Metro will begin construction on the North rail corridor which will connect to the Red Line at the University of Houston-Downtown and end at the Northline Station on Fulton and Deerfield streets near Northline Mall.

Construction will also begin on the Southeast rail corridor that will begin near Interstate 45 downtown and end near the proposed Palm Center Transit Center on Griggs Road.

Construction will be carried out in four phases and will include utility work, road widening and guideway work.

About damn time. Now if we can clear the last few hurdles standing in the way of the Universities line, which in turn will mean getting the Uptown line off the ground, we can finally, FINALLY get delivery on the system the voters approved back in 2003. At which point – really, hopefully, well before that – we can begin the discussion about where we go from there. I have some ideas about that as you know, but there are plenty more possibilities beyond them. If I have one big hope for the next Mayor, it’s that he or she move this ball forward, and at a faster rate than what we’ve seen so far.

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One Comment

  1. JJMB says:

    I commute daily into downtown, and I often go from the west side of the Main Street line to the east side, and vice versa. I find that at-grade rail is very hard to cross over. The lights are mistimed, a train comes from one way, then the lights stay red, then a train comes from the other way. It greatly adds to commuting time, and thus engine idling and carbon emissions. And the Main Street line has waaaay fewer cross-traffic cars than most of the other proposed lines.

    Do you live in a place where you will be regularly crossing over a rail line? I do, and the cross streets over Richmond that already back up for 3-4 blocks will, I fear, become nearly impassible once the rail goes in. I can see confining my driving within an area sealed off by rail. That will have an interesting impact on businesses, friendships, and other affiliations.

    Please keep this in mind once these lines are built. I hope I am wrong, but I predict that the disruption of cross-traffic, paired with the decreased capacity of the road on which the line runs (unless they do a much better job than Main and Fannin Streets — have you ever tried to drive on those when a train is anywhere within 4 blocks?) will greatly outweigh the relatively few people that the train cars can carry. And, of course, if the rail gets much ridership at all, then adding more frequent railcars will make the cross and on road traffic even worse.

    I think at-grade rail is a terrible idea. Far better to spend more money (yes, I know, a lot more money, but I for one would be willing to pony up my share) and have it elevated. I think you people who want and demand any rail, no matter the drawbacks, will one day be shown to have done your community a huge disservice. I can even imagine us having to tear out all the failed lines in the relatively near term, wasting billions of dollars, and then starting all over with elevated rail.

    But we’ll see. I’ll save this posting and get in touch with you in 5 years. I really, really hope that I have to apologize and say “you were right.” But I have spent a lot of time in the vacinity of the Main Steet line (have you?), and I don’t think that will be the case.