Transportation Commission approves funds for Uptown BRT


Dedicated bus lanes along Loop 610 remain a part of planned transit service in the Uptown area after state officials kept $25 million allocated to an upcoming project.

After months of discussions about the project’s purpose and agreements between the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation, state transportation commissioners Thursday approved the state’s 10-year spending plan with the money for the bus lanes included.

John Breeding, president of the Uptown Management District, told officials he was pleased to move the process along.

“We particularly thank you for your leadership and your patience as the area got its act together on this project,” Breeding said.

Proponents of the project have noted Uptown is one of Houston’s most traffic-clogged areas, a problem that’s likely to worsen with recent development. More frequent, fast and predictable transit, supporters say, could give many workers an option that would take cars off the roads and out of Uptown parking garages.

State transportation officials passed the plan without comment. The plan is updated annually and covers the next decade of road expansion and maintenance as well as transit and alternative transportation projects, such as bicycle lanes.


“The way this project will be successful is to make it reliable and fast,” Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia said.

Post Oak will continue to have three traffic lanes in each direction, with some turn lanes.

Some traffic lights will be sequenced to allow buses to avoid stopping but not those at major intersections such as Westheimer and San Felipe, where tweaking the timing could have disastrous effects on traffic flow.

See here for the previous update. There was far too much squabbling over this, and I’m still unhappy with the condition that there be no preparations included for possible future conversion to light rail, but at least this hurdle has been cleared. Metro Chair Garcia is right that the main goal here is to build something that people will want to use. If that happens, it will be a lot easier to take a next step if there is one.

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One Response to Transportation Commission approves funds for Uptown BRT

  1. Jules says:

    Charles, I’m curious as to why you are for this project. What problem is taking cars out of Uptown parking garages trying to solve? Parking cars is what parking garages are for. Who is going to drive to Northwest Mall to take bus to the Galleria? Why should the City condemn land to build a bus lane no one will use?

    This editorial:

    says “Major Galleria-area employer Apache, initially in favor of the project, now opposes it. The company surveyed its employees and asked how many would drive to the Northwest Mall and then board a bus to the Post Oak Central offices. Not one Apache employee was interested in doing so. Not one.”

    And then there’s this “When I directly asked the mayor’s chief development officer, Andy Icken, who curiously was presenting the Uptown TIRZ’s presentation, as to the size of the necessary takings, he responded, “It’s not much, only 15,000 or 16,000 square feet.” Preliminary estimates are over 160,000 square feet. That’s 10 times larger. Project costs have been grossly understated.”

    I know this isn’t a piece by a Chronicle employee, but the Chron is increasingly calling out Andy Icken.

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