Metro gets some corridors started

And the next phase of the Metro light rail/guided rapid transit system is underway.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority board approved a $77.3 million agreement Tuesday with an Idaho-based engineering and construction firm to begin work on the city’s next four rapid transit lines.

Under the contract, Washington Group Transit Management Co. will organize, schedule and perform early design and construction work on the North, Southeast, East End and Uptown corridors.

All four lines are expected to start out with Bus Rapid Transit, which uses trainlike buses in guideways, and be converted to light rail when ridership justifies the additional cost.

The project also includes a transfer hub, known as the Intermodal Terminal Facility, on North Main near the University of Houston-Downtown, where bus and light rail lines will meet.

The board also approved awarding the firm $2.5 million for precontract work.

Greg P.Therrien, president of infrastructure for the parent company, Washington Group International, said the design work would likely be completed by March.

The Metro board will take action on a separate design and construction contract in a later phase of the project, which could also include a contract to operate and maintain the completed line.

The Universities corridor will be done separately. I’m not sure what the time frame is on that. I’m also not sure what the status of the “lawsuit” is – I haven’t heard anything, and haven’t had the time to try to call someone at Metro and find out. Regardless, at least this piece is moving along.

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