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More on the Council Metro vote

Some more details in today’s paper on yesterday’s City Council vote in favor of the Metro consent agreement.

Current plans call for the University line to run on Wheeler from Main to Ennis, where it would turn north alongside Texas Southern University. Metro said access to TSU was one reason for favoring Wheeler.

Councilwoman Jolanda Jones and several residents with homes on Wheeler, a major thoroughfare of the old Third Ward area, told council Tuesday that rail would change the street’s character and restrict vehicle traffic.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, asked Metro to rethink the route, saying Wheeler “has great history and is part of the fabric of the community.”

Metro President and CEO Frank Wilson said council members would arrange a meeting, possibly Monday, among Metro, city officials and residents and businesses along Wheeler to hear their concerns and consider possible alternative routes.

Wilson and Jackson Lee would not say what alternative should be considered, but Metro’s federally required environmental analysis compared the Wheeler route to others on Alabama and Elgin.

Another segment of Wheeler farther east — running from Scott to Martin Luther King, and along the south edge of the University of Houston — is part of the planned Southeast line. Metro is not planning to review it, Wilson said.

There was some negative feedback about the Wheeler alignment when it was announced, though it was less vocal and much less contentious than the anti-Richmond faction. I doubt Metro is going to change its mind about the route and risk further delays in getting federal funding, so I’m not sure what an acceptable outcome to all parties looks like.

Metro still faces a long road. Federal funding is not guaranteed, a lawsuit challenges the plans for rail on Richmond Avenue, and Metro has yet to agree to terms with a contractor to build and operate the system.

I don’t think any of those things are showstoppers, but this is just one of many small steps. I hope they are able to break ground next month, but the finish line is far from visible yet.

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One Comment

  1. Charles, this Wheeler issue is a head scratcher for me. The East End line was put on Harrisburg because it was deemed the signature thoroughfare of the area.

    Why would Third Ward disagree with that logic? I would think bringing rail down a historic thoroughfare would greatly benefit residents in that area; it’s expected to be a boon for the Harrisburg corridor. I’m also quite surprised that they would (presumably) cut TSU off the rail network.

    In any case, I hope that Phase II can start getting built and, more importantly, start on time by 2012.