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.