Houston-area transit officials will wait out a little more of the coronavirus crisis before soliciting bids on five of the first projects in their $7 billion construction bonanza for bus and rail upgrades.
“Moving this by a month does not hurt anything at all,” said Sanjay Ramabhadran, a Metropolitan Transit Authority board member.
Board members on Tuesday delayed approval of the procedure for selecting engineering, architecture and design firms for what could be more than $1 billion in bus and rail projects along key routes. The projects are the first in the agency’s long-range transportation plan, which voters approved in November, authorizing Metro to borrow up to $3.5 billion. The remaining costs for the program, called MetroNext, will be covered by federal grants and unspent local money Metro set aside for future budgets.
Instead, officials said the requests for proposals are set for approval in April for:
- an extension of the Green and Purple light-rail lines to the Houston Municipal Courthouse
- bus rapid transit and a dedicated lane along Interstate 10 from Loop 610 to downtown Houston
- rapid bus service and use of managed lanes along Interstate 45
- a new Missouri City Park and Ride
- enhanced bus corridors along the Westheimer and Lockwood bus routes
The time will allow Metro officials to review the specifics of the agreements, Chairwoman Carrin Patman said.
See here and here for some background. No mention of the Uptown BRT line, whose target opening date is now July, though Lord knows what anything means at this time. Metro has suspended fare collection for now, in part because people need all the help they can get during this crisis, and in part because ridership numbers have plummeted during the crisis. Neither of those will have much effect on Metro’s cash flow in the short term, but the concurrent decline in local sales tax revenue will. We’ll know more about that in May when the Comptroller disburses the March tax revenues.