March 03, 2009
Metro to vote on rail contract

The good news: Metro is set to vote on the contract to build the next light rail lines. The bad news is that they're doing is amid headlines like Metro refuses to discuss rail contract details before vote.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority's board is expected to vote on a multi-billion-dollar light rail contract tomorrow, but agency officials have refused to disclose details about the scope and price of the contract prior to the board action.

The board is reviewing the proposed contract in a closed-door executive session this afternoon.

Board President David Wolff on Tuesday defended the agency's silence, saying negotiations with its builder, Parsons Transportation Group, likely will continue up until Wednesday's meeting and that the terms of the contract also are likely to change.

Metro spokesman George Smalley today declined to disclose any details of the pending agreement, saying it still was being negotiated.

The board is scheduled to vote at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Metro's downtown office.

"If the public can't find out what's going on until two seconds before the board makes a decision, that's just too late," said Jennifer Peebles, of the non-partisan Web advocacy group, Texas Watchdog. "If they are not giving details before the vote and not allowing us a chance to weigh in, they're making decisions in a bubble."

sigh I swear, if we could ever get through one step of this process without Metro doing something annoying or puzzling, we might actually get these lines built before I'm too old to use them. Doing things under wraps is a bad idea for HISD, and it's a bad idea for Metro, too. I agree with Texas Watchdog that doing this in the open is not going to jeopardize Parsons' willingness to sign on the dotted line, and if it does, we made a bad choice. All I can say is I hope there aren't any hidden stink bombs in this contract, because if there are, it'll be too late to do anything about it by the time someone notices.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 03, 2009 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
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