Measured opposition on Richmond

Given that there was supposed to be another Metro open house on the Universities line yesterday, I was hoping there’d be an article on that in today’s Chron so I could do one post on that and on this story from yesterday, in which Richmond Avenue property owners fret about the amount of space the rail line might take from them. No dice on a story for today, as far as I could see, so I guess I’ll just go ahead with something on yesterday’s story.

“According to the drawings Metro released last Tuesday, what you’re seeing is an 86-foot right of way they will require – and that line is the edge of the street,” said gallery owner Robert McClain.

He was pointing to a blue line on the driveway of McClain Gallery on Richmond between Kirby and Greenbriar. About 80 residents and business people from the neighborhood gathered there Friday for a rally and news conference.


McClain pointed to a map with about 100 red stickers on it and four blue ones. He said [shop owner Daphne] Scarborough took a walking poll along the segment east of Kirby, and the stickers indicate sentiment against and for rail there.

Metro spokesman George Smalley said he would like to know more about the poll. “Because we have not seen the survey and don’t know how that question was asked, it is difficult to know whether the results are valid or not,” he said.

“People can ask leading questions. I’m not saying it was biased or unbiased, but it was conducted by people who are passionate against rail on Richmond.”

As to the blue lines on the concrete, Smalley said, they are based on the “potentially flawed assumption” that Metro will need equally wide right of way on each side of the current median.

I presume this question came up in yesterday’s meeting, but as of this posting, I can’t say what happened from there. Maybe there’ll be a story on Monday.

(UPDATE: My bad, the next meeting concerning Universities is today, not Saturday. Thanks to Kevin in the comments for reminding me of this.)

We do, however, get an editorial in favor of the Richmond option, which suggests that our options aren’t so much Richmond or Westpark but Richmond or nothing.

Of the five proposed new Metro transit lines, only the route linking the University of Houston and Texas Southern University on the east to the Galleria area and beyond has generated significant controversy. Metro’s preferred route would run along Richmond from Main Street to South Rice near the Galleria. Some trains would continue north on Post Oak, while others would go west on Westpark to the Hillcroft Transit Center, giving Park ‘n Ride patrons access to the expanding rail system.

That is the most direct route and the one surveys reveal would attract the most ridership. Without sufficient ridership, the line will not qualify for federal financing. Without federal financing, the line needed to connect all the other transit corridors cannot be built.

It doesn’t have to come to that, of course – there may be an alternate route that’s more acceptable to more people, won’t cost more than the Richmond line would or be any more disruptive to any more people and businesses than the construction on Richmond would, and would have a comparable potential for ridership to Richmond. I’m not aware of such an alternative, but that doesn’t mean one can’t exist. Maybe between now and the end of the third open house meeting with Metro, we’ll hear more about such an alternative. It would be nice.

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2 Responses to Measured opposition on Richmond

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    I presume this question came up in yesterday’s meeting, but as of this posting, I can’t say what happened from there. Maybe there’ll be a story on Monday.

    There was not a Richmond/Westpark rail meeting scheduled for Saturday. You are thinking of the North Hardy rail meeting on Saturday, which was covered by the Chronicle.

    There are previously announced Richmond/Westpark rail meetings scheduled for today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday).

  2. Robin Holzer says:

    I am increasingly disappointed with Rad’s (or his edtior’s?) coverage of the Universties line issues. He knows things that aren’t making it into the paper.

    METRO is still proposing several alignment options for the Universities light rail line, both east and west of Main Street. At Thursday’s METRO board meeting, both David Wolff and Frank Wilson made clear that they would prefer to get at least to Greenway Plaza on Richmond. Serving the 55,000 jobs there will provide maximum ridership bang for the transit buck. There are also a LOT of people who live in the residential high rises both at Greenway, and on Richmond just outside the 610 loop.

    However, in addition to the all-the-way-down-Richmond option, METRO is still proposing several alternatives that cut over from Richmond to Westpark at various points.

    Both METRO and Rep. Culberson are urging Houstonians to look at the new conceptual engineering work, make your own conclusisions, and submit comments by Tuesday, August 1st.

    The Congressman has changed his tune in the three years since the Katy Freeway expansion began. He now claims that the only voices that matter are those on the affected street, though he championed the condemnation of more than 480 properties along I-10, at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of millions. He doesn’t seem interested anymore in regional mobility, never mind urban mobility.

    I would argue that METRO is expanding our urban transit system and that will shape our city for the next 20-30 years. The final alignment of the Universities line will not only affect riders of our entire transit system, but also people who live and work in central city urban neighborhoods. All of these folks have a right to weigh in, too.

    There are two public open houses early this week where you can look at the maps and conceptual drawings and make up your own mind:

    • Mon July 24, 5:00 – 8:00 pm, Third Ward Multi-Service Center, 3611 Ennis
    • Tues July 25, 5:00 – 8:00 pm, St. Paul’s UMC, 5501 South Main St.

    If you cannot make the meetings, METRO has posted the presentation and drawings on the website. Then submit your comments here.

    Hope this helps,

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