February 06, 2009
A piece of the stimulus pie for Metro

This would be nice.

Houston Metro is due to receive as much as $180 million over the next 12 months from a huge economic stimulus bill to help jump-start construction of two light rail lines, a House committee chairman said Wednesday.

The long-delayed rail lines on the city's north and southeast sides are a "very high-rated project," said Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., who heads the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The project, he said, is ready to go and has cleared all but one step of a federal review.

"I will work with the Houston (congressional) delegation and with the Federal Transit Administration to process this project along," Oberstar told the Houston Chronicle.

Asked if Metro's overall request for $410 million from the economic stimulus bill had been realistic, Oberstar replied, "I should think so."

But the veteran lawmaker said the final amount of stimulus money for Metro would depend on action by the Senate and a House-Senate conference committee. Oberstar expects to sit on the conference committee.

If the transit portion of the stimulus package "stays at the $12 billion level (set by his committee), this would be a project in very good standing," he said. The Senate was debating the bill Wednesday.

Whatever it takes to get these long-overdue projects moving, I'm happy for. Keep your fingers crossed. Of course, as Christof and Houston Tomorrow note, Senate Republicans want to divert all that money to highways instead. That's some forward thinking for you there. Hopefully, the Democrats will locate something resembling a spine and turn back those efforts. Yeah, I know.

By the way, on a related note, Tom Abrahams links to the document from the White House that outlines the impact of the stimulus plan on each state; it claims 285,000 new jobs in Texas if the plan passes. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 06, 2009 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Amazing. I told Sheila Jackson Lee last Monday that she has to take the i45 tunnel project to President Obama for funding, not so much as a transportation program but because Houston is not prepared for hurricanes and must have hurricane shelters. Thus the i45 tunnels can be designed for hurricane shelters. Also told her that we need to build local schools as multi purpose, meaning these must also be designed for hurricane shelters and must be top quality to educate our children. I said similar thing at the town hall meeting held by Sylvia Garcia.
Now you bring to my attention the fact that the White House has identified the need to modernize our schools.
Superb. I am to follow up with Sheila Jackson Lee, this is a perfect story.
Glad I am reading your postings. YOU are a superb.

Posted by: Gonzalo Camacho on February 7, 2009 2:32 AM

This may lead to the most significant improvement in the history of Houston transportation. Metro should push to have as many rail lines as possible to be included in this program. Two is not enough but it is a great start.

Posted by: cb on February 7, 2009 5:01 PM
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)