August 12, 2006
A different kind of mixed reaction

The beginning of this story about a Metro public hearing regarding a rail corridor will probably sound familiar to you.

Sentiment was split regarding the pros and cons of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's alignment plans for its North Corridor bus rapid transit line at a public hearing Saturday at Davis High School, 1101 Quitman.

The 250 people who attended Metro's second and final public hearing on the plans were equally split among those who want the project to move forward as quickly as possible and those who oppose Metro's proposals.

Opposition concerns ranged from the line's proposed route from the Main Street light rail line to Northline Mall and its effect on northside neighborhoods.

Sounds like another Universities situation, right? Not quite.

They also questioned why the light rail line, initially proposed for the corridor in the Metro Solutions referendum of 2003, had been changed to a bus rapid transit line.


Moses Villalpando, president of the North Lindale Civic Association, said the change from light rail to bus is one of the reasons he is protesting the current plan.

"We voted for light rail, not for buses," Villalpando said.

As I understand it, the neighborhood associations in this area are all very much in favor of getting this line built. They just want it built as light rail, as was originally proposed. More on this in a minute.

Current alignment options begin at the University of Houston's downtown campus and head north on Main Street, stopping at a new intermodal facility at Burnett.

The line would continue north on Main to Boundary, then head east to connect with Fulton.

The next segment of the line would either continue north on Fulton or Irvington. The Irvington alignment would turn west on Cavalcade and connect back to Fulton. It would then follow Fulton north to Northline Mall.

Each bus would carry a maximum of 90 passengers. Light rail trains have a 200-passenger capacity.

A number of residents expressed concern over the Irvington alignment, and lobbied for the line to follow Fulton from Boundary to the mall.

"We do not need Irvington Boulevard destroyed," said Virginia Duke, a Lindale Park resident.

Said North Lindale resident John Buck, "Fulton would have significantly less of an impact on the neighborhood."

As it happens, Virginia is a friend of mine. I talked to her about this story last night. The residents want it built on Fulton because Irvington has an esplanade, which the neighborhood association built and pays to maintain, that would have to be removed for the tracks. The folks there also believe having the line on Irvington would split the neighborhood. Fulton, by contrast, is less residential, and as far as Virginia knows no one actually opposes building it there. She believes the driving force behind the Irvington proposal is the Harris County Department of Education, whose office building is on Irvington.

Despite concerns about the proposed route, safety and the potential taking of property, many voiced support for the North Corridor.

They included U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and Gene Green, D-Houston, and At-Large Houston City Councilman Peter Brown.

"This is a safe, quiet, fuel-efficient alternative," Brown said. "It's good for neighborhoods, it's good for property values and it creates jobs."

Said Northside resident Mary Almendarez, "We voted for this, we need it and we want it. We need to find a way to make people happy."

Virginia was emphatic about the neighborhood associations being in favor of this line getting built. The comment she told me she made at the meeting was "We were promised this in 2008, and now it's going to be 2010. I just hope y'all build it before we all need to be carried to the ribbon cutting."

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 12, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

kuff-what about today;s 8/13 article on culberson's demand that the rail be on the sw frwy. can u do some analysis on this etc? this cant be feasable...

Posted by: israelite007 on August 13, 2006 8:23 PM