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Harrisburg line groundbreaking Thursday

At long last, construction for the Metro 2012 plan is about to begin.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority will host a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday for the East End light rail line, the first of five scheduled to be completed by late 2012, and the first to start construction since the Red Line opened in 2004.

Metro spokeswoman Sandra Salazar said the event will be on property owned by developer Frank Liu on Harrisburg Boulevard near Eastwood and will involve mostly public officials and community leaders.

Salazar said the actual site preparation and construction likely will begin between Milby and Lockwood next month, but the exact date was not available Tuesday.

Metro says it will build the future lines in 4,000-foot segments, completing each before work starts on the next to avoid the lengthy disruptions of traffic and business that marred construction of the Red Line.

[…]

Salazar said Metro also expects to break ground for the North and Southeast lines this summer, but only after it receives assurance that the Federal Transit Administration will pay half their cost.

Metro is planning to build the East End and Uptown lines out of its own revenues, but needs federal funding for the controversial University Line.

Salazar said construction of the Uptown line, which would run from the Northwest Transit Center to Post Oak Boulevard and end south of Westpark, probably will not begin until federal funds for the University line are assured.

So if all else fails, we’ll at least get this line built, though we still need to get the freight rail overpass funded to make sure this line is truly complete. The North and Southeast lines shouldn’t have any trouble getting federal funding, but you never know what might happen. And we all know about the Universities line. Speaking of which:

Metro said Tuesday that state District Judge Levi Benton has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 6 on Metro’s request to have [Daphne] Scarbrough’s lawsuit thrown out.

Scarbrough’s attorney Andy Taylor has said if Benton rules in Metro’s favor, he will appeal.

I’ll be amazed if ground gets broken for this line before 2009. The East End line may be near completion before this one gets started. But as long as it does get going, that’s what matters.

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