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Metro gets FTA final design approval for North and Southeast lines

Another step forward.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) gave METRO permission today to enter into Final Design on Houston’s North and Southeast light-rail lines.

The FTA’s approval is the final prerequisite toward entering Full Funding Grant Agreements on both lines, which signals the federal government’s commitment to fund its part of the projects.

The approval authorizes METRO to undertake construction preparation activities such as utility relocation, right-of-way acquisition, development of detailed specifications and preparation of final construction plans.

In its letters, the FTA noted that METRO has adequately defined the North and Southeast Corridor’s project scope, cost estimate, schedule and potential risk areas. It also states that METRO has demonstrated the technical capacity and capability to construct and implement the projects and has sufficient technical and management resources to enter into final design work.

The FTA also notes that it is working with METRO to finalize items pertaining to METRO’s Title VI program and the implementation of a detailed operational analysis of rail-car headways when the project is completed.

That’s good news for these lines, obviously. It’s also good news for the Universities line, for as I understand it, one reason why that process is taking so long is because Metro has three other lines in the queue ahead of it, and the FTA doesn’t like dealing with too many requests from the same agency at once. Or something like that. In any event, getting the North, Southeast, and Harrisburg lines all the way through the process will help move the Univerisities line along as well, is what I’ve heard.

On a related note, here’s some info about construction activities on the Harrisburg line.

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