Monday, July 31, 2006

News alert: Christof analyzes the University Line

I know this is off my usual publishing schedule, but time is running short on decisions about the Metro Universities line. Christof has added three excellent new posts at Intermodality:
  1. An alternate route that connects TSU without running through the campus
  2. A pre-response to congressman John Culberson's expected opposition
  3. An in-depth analysis of the seven Richmond vs. Westpark routing options
He also has a cool post and diagram of the evolution of IAH's terminal configuration, including the rather radical long-term plan. If you're a transportation junkie like me, they're all great reads. If you have an opinion, be sure to make sure your voice is heard by Metro.

Update: this morning's Chronicle article. Note pros/cons graphic link on the right side under "Resources."


At 8:13 AM, August 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sort of peculiar how Houston (and John Culberson) has turned NIMBY all of a sudden. The lack of NIMBY-ism has been the defining thing about Houston -- its citizens' lack of aversion to large-scale projects. I mean, just look at the Katy Freeway.

If the anti-Richmond rail folks get their way, does that sound a death knell to other large-scale works projects in the Inner Loop? (Or did that already start when Inner Loopers stopped the widening of 610?) Additionally, is this necessarily a good or bad thing? Is this a sign of increased civic pride and identity or of mere parochialism?

This battle has been endlessly fascinating. (I hope, however, that things turn out for the best -- that Metro's able to put that line down Richmond while mitigating the effects of construction for merchants.)

At 8:31 AM, August 01, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I don't really think it's different than any other city: people fight when their neighborhood is directly threatened, and wealthier neighborhoods fight the hardest. It's just the good of the few/neighborhood vs. the good of the many/region problem. Katy went through because there isn't too much residential along it, and everybody agreed *something* had to be done (although not everybody's happy with the specific choice of "something"). By far the biggest protests are when a project happens near a residential neighborhood (like parts of the West Loop, 45N inside the Loop, 59 east of Shepherd). Most freeways in Houston have feeders lined with commercial/retail or apartments, and they're just not as resistant (fortunately).

At 11:24 AM, August 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that we're not going to see federal money for this, due to a combination of Culberson and the tight federal budget. If that's the case, could Metro build it with its own funds, like it did Main Street?

At 12:51 PM, August 01, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Maybe, if they convert it all to BRT, and scale back the network.

At 12:57 PM, August 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yes. It's not any different than any other city (there's a somewhat similar story in Los Angeles with Westside rail in the 80's).

Houston, however, has been quite different than other cities in that our residents generally go along with any sort of large-scale works project. I think there's some uniqueness to our city in our shunning of zoning and our lack of overt NIMBY-ism. In some way, I think Houston (at least inside the loop) is losing part of that unique, growth-oriented culture.


Culberson's probably going to kill the fed funding. Again, Los Angeles comes to mind -- Waxman pushed a bill through Congress banning fed funding for Red Line construction on Wilshire. I'd imagine that Culberson might do the same. There's no way that Metro's going to build ANOTHER line without fed matching dollars. Perhaps Metro will build the line east of the Main Street line, but I bet it won't be feasible (at least under current fta rules) without some sort of westside component. It's sort of a shame for the Third Ward and UHers that the fate of their (real) rail line is tied up with this entire showdown.

Here's a quick comment, too:

It's essentially unfeasible not to build on Richmond at least to Shepherd; hopefully Culberson will clarify his anti-Richmond stance (and say what the hell he'd suggest instead of Richmond east of Shepherd.

At 4:30 PM, August 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maybe, if they convert it all to BRT, and scale back the network."

And then you and the other anti-railers will get your wish. Too bad the majority of Houston voters won't get theirs.

At 6:59 PM, August 01, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I support most of the core network. It's commuter rail I have a problem with.

At 8:28 PM, August 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think METRO will be allowed to get away with activities contrary to the stipulations in the "Solutions" scheme Bond Referendum of November 4, 2003.

METRO has slashed bus service to the poor, minority, elderly, and handicapped bus transit dependent riders throughout the service area at the same time they propose a grandiose Utopian urban tram on Richmond Avenue.

The taxpayers continue to be shortchanged on METRO's ill-devised transit schemes.

At 9:07 AM, August 02, 2006, Blogger kjb434 said...

The above website is the counter to people against Richmond Rail. This organization states that more residents and businesses along Richmond are for this project than against.

At 7:17 PM, August 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, Tory, you've been pretty fair on light rail. Sorry to mischaracterize you.

At 10:21 PM, August 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kristof analysis shows that the crossover to Westpark strategy is the dominant one. The only ridership difference comes from a Richmond/Post Oak stop, which can be accomplished by either the line turning north to that point from Westpark or via a connection. So why is Metro stupidly picking a fight with the folks who have killed rail before when there is no benefit?

The Afton Oaks/Mid Lane/Lynn Park residents have a legitimate beef -- the rail is of no benefit to them, there's this awful freeway-style overpass in the plan [expensive!], their mobility is reduced and METRO will take some land (at least if you want sidewalks back on Richmond).

METRO's heavy handedness is about to jeopardize rail for all. They need to junk their all-Richmond plans and focus on how to sell this to lower Richmond.

At 4:10 PM, August 04, 2006, Blogger Owen Courrèges said...


If the voters in Houston had their say to begin with, we probably wouldn't have rail at all. It was METRO going over the heads of the voters that got the Main Street line started, by which time it was too late to stop without incurring major losses. After that, it's just a small step towards expansion.


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