From The Houston Chronicle
Mayor Annise Parker cast doubt Wednesday on whether the Metropolitan Transit Authority has the money to pay for two planned light-rail lines that proponents say are critical to the success of the agency’s plans.
Parker said members of her transition team have “drilled down” into Metro’s finances and she now feels comfortable only with the funding plans of three rail lines: the East End, North and Southeast. Construction on those lines is under way.
The University Line would run on Richmond Avenue, just North of Richwood place.
Work on Metro’s University Corridor rail project is underway. Once constructed, the line will run directly North of our neighborhood, with the closest stations at Richmond & Shephard and Richmond & Dunlavy.
My wife, Jennifer, spoke with Monique Ward at METRO to see what this means for our neighborhood. Monique first pointed out that METRO received some great news in December 2009. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved the University Corridor Light Rail Transit Project advancement to Preliminary Engineering Phase (the Federal Project Development Process is: DEIS, Designation of Locally Preferred Alternative, FEIS, Preliminary Engineering Phase <where we are now>, Final Design, Construction, Operation). That means the project is moving forward, the line is set and engineering activities are in progress. As a next step, METRO has posted the Final Environmental Impact Statement on its website for any interested parties to review (you can review the first chapter for an overview). METRO anticipates receiving a record of decision in early April. Once this is received, METRO can move forward in the process to seek federal funding and engineers can proceed with design work.
To sum up current activities, METRO resources are currently working to complete all the necessary steps to get federal funding so that construction can begin.
If all goes as planned, METRO is expected to break ground on the line some time in 2011. Construction is expected to take four years to complete, however, METRO plans to break up the construction into small segments to minimize impact to businesses and residents in the area. METRO doesn’t expect to have anymore large scale community meetings, but they do expect to provide regular updates (ground breaking, status, etc) once the record of decision and funding are received. Monique wanted to assure any home or business owners who would be impacted by the line that METRO will contact them directly. She said they will provide ample time for these individuals to work with the METRO real-estate department.
The Richwood Place Board will continue to follow METRO’s announcements and let you know when more information is available. If you have questions or if you would like the METRO contact information we gathered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Construction of the North and Southeast LRT lines is already taking place.