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Council fusses at Metro over rail details

This story about City Council delaying a vote on the “consent agreement” with Metro seems to me to be less bad than it sounds.

Among council members’ concerns were sidewalks, street beautification, the impact of construction, the danger of trains operating in residential neighborhoods and uncertainties about routes. After more than two hours of discussion, committee chair Sue Lovell adjourned the meeting.

“When we have votes, I like for them to be informed votes,” she said. “We have some work to do to go back and get some answers.”

A May 13 meeting on the agreement also ended without a vote. Lovell said private meetings would be set up next week so committee members can put their questions to Mayor Bill White and Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Frank Wilson.

The proposed agreement could come back to the committee for a vote in June or go directly to the full council if members’ concerns are addressed, she said.


“Some of us feel that this is our last shot,” [Council Member Peter] Brown said. “Once we sign the consent agreement, the partnership may crumble. Metro may not listen.”

Councilwoman Melissa Noriega agreed, saying, “We have leverage to impact this.”

That’s about the size of it. Council has one chance to affect what Metro does from here, and they’re quite reasonably going to make the most of it. When all is said and done, I believe Metro will accommodate them as best they can, and I will be very surprised if the agreement is not ratified by a wide margin.

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  1. Peter Wang says:

    It is less bad than it sounds. I was present for the entire meeting. Council Members very much want to approve it, but it is poorly written in places, and is not near enough to a final draft to vote on.

  2. Mike Harrington says:

    I hope Council and Metro get it worked out quickly. Electrified railways for both freight and people have been kept off the table for too long. The way motor fuel costs have risen, and where they’re going in the long term, the cost of running an internal combustion-based transit system will prevent Metro from expanding transit service at the very moment Houston needs it most. Transit systems and railroads in the USA need to get away from internal combustion as quickly as possible.