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RedScare

MetroRail University Line On Richmond

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Tory Gattis has a couple of posts on his blog about shortsighted political opposition to the University rail line allignment.

http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/

Christof Spieler, who has a great blog about transportation, has some great comments, along with some good maps to make his point.

http://www.ctchouston.org/blogs/christof/2006/02/09/23/

There are apparently some people hoping to derail the University Line before it even gets started. I'm posting their blogs here since there are 1500 members on this forum, and some thoughtful voices on mass transit. I also think they like the publicity. ;)

What are your thoughts? I think this line is critical to LRT's success in Houston. I also think it will be a blockbuster success for businesses and residents in the Richmond corridor. I am at a complete loss as to why a business owner on Richmond would not support years of transit riders being dropped on his doorstep, as well as the massive upgrade of Richmond Avenue that the rail would bring.

The intelligent approach would be to express concerns about construction to METRO, while supporting the line, so that construction disruption can be minimized, similar to the Southwest Freeway construction was done. Political agendas dictate otherwise.

I'd also like to get some ideas to let METRO know that the future USERS of this line prefer this allignment (or whatever other allignment is preferred).

Speak up.

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great links red, thanks.

the maps make it clear that the richmond line is the logical next step. perhaps what these businesses fear most is the construction period? many of the locations served by the richmond line are places that i visit on a regular basis. this line would give me, a woodlands' resident, more reason to park my vehicle when coming in to town. isn't this the goal, or at least part of it? if the line were placed where it's convenient politically/financially (westpark), i would have no reason to ride it.

what's up with martha wong?

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Red, I can't understand the business owners's concerns either, I think the big reason for Richmond instead of Westheimer is the major telephone and electrical conduits running under Westheimer. And a major water runoff as well. Richmond road is so desperately ineed of repair, I cannot wait for it to happen.

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Apparently, Culberson is trying to ditch Westheimer as a route as well. I think that his office, or his interests, are trying to misinform the business owners and residents to knock out BOTH corridors. When METRO caves and proposes Westpark, he'll then come down hard on that plan as not being useful to the riders. Or, he'll let that route go in, then complain that ridership is too low.

Either way, he is not being true to his fiscal conservative base. This federal money will go somewhere else if we don't get it, forcing METRO to pay for it itself...again. This doesn't save a dime for taxpayers. In fact, it costs us more. It is incumbent on us to let METRO AND Culberson know that he is not representing us well.

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I am totally in agreement - running the Universities Line down Westpark would be a missed opportunity.

However, I fear the proposal to run on Richmond to just before the Loop and then switching to Westpark misses some great opportunities as well. I think we'd end up with a much better system (and more highly utlized) if it went down Richmond to Weslayan and then went north to Westheimer, then west through the Uptown area and then south back down to the Transit Center. It would add the whole Highland Village area, the new developments at the HISD HQ property, the new developments along Westheimer between Highland Village and the Loop, the existing properties along Westheimer (eg Hotel Derek, The Grotto) and add East-West service through the Uptown area. I think it might add so much additional benefit, that it might be worth tunneling it to get under the Loop and perhaps part of the Westheimer/Uptown stretch as well (to avoid adding to the existing congestion).

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what's up with martha wong?

Sounds like Martha's trying to suck up to a couple of anti-rail conservatives.

http://examinernews.com/articles/2006/01/2...nity/comm01.txt

Everything I've read so far fails to mention any opponent by name. I know there are some neighborhood concerns about trees and construction, which can be addressed by METRO, but I find the use of terms like "substantial opposition" to be curious, when not one opponent besides Culberson and Wong themselves, has been identified.

METRO appears to be leaning strongly toward Richmond, and seems to understand that a Westpark route will kill funding. Culberson and Wong may be thinking the same thing. We'll see how it plays out.

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We met with Wong in the 90s on UH funding by the legislature.

Lets just say she cares more about Austin and UT than Houston and UH.

Two wongs don't make a right.

04-15-hv-wong-p1.jpg

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I think part of the problem is that Metro wants to be the nice guy in town and let TxDOT be the bad guy, when in fact Metro needs to start acting more like TxDOT by standing firm and using eminent domain. In particular, they should acquire property along Richmond where needed to make this work, specifically in the neighborhood between the West Loop and Weslayan. In that neighborhood they should acquire all the homes on one side of the street and run the tracks in that space. That would allow trees to be preserved in the median of Richmond and also provide ample space for noise abatement and even a greenbelt.

Sure, the neighborhood would fight it but the end result would be much better for all remaining homes, traffic flow on Richmond, and the rail line.

We shouldn't have this standard whereby TxDOT is Dr. Evil and Metro is Mr. Nice Guy. If TxDOT can aquire homes for transportation, so should Metro when needed. But I realize the chances Metro will do this are slim. Still, I think it would be absurd to shift the line to Westpark west of Weslayan and terminate it on Westpark at 610. At the very minimum, it needs to terminate at Richmond and Post Oak.

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What are names and contact details of specific businesses who are protesting? I need to contact them and tell them to be patient while construction.

Also, my dad is a friend of Martha Wong. Maybe I could get in touch with Wong and work something out with this.

Edited by VicMan

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I think instead of spending $200k per house, spend $2000 on each tree to carefully transplant it. I'm sure a good arborist or a team of them could make this a reality.

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I think part of the problem is that Metro wants to be the nice guy in town and let TxDOT be the bad guy, when in fact Metro needs to start acting more like TxDOT by standing firm and using eminent domain. In particular, they should acquire property along Richmond where needed to make this work, specifically in the neighborhood between the West Loop and Weslayan. In that neighborhood they should acquire all the homes on one side of the street and run the tracks in that space. That would allow trees to be preserved in the median of Richmond and also provide ample space for noise abatement and even a greenbelt.

Sure, the neighborhood would fight it but the end result would be much better for all remaining homes, traffic flow on Richmond, and the rail line.

We shouldn't have this standard whereby TxDOT is Dr. Evil and Metro is Mr. Nice Guy. If TxDOT can aquire homes for transportation, so should Metro when needed. But I realize the chances Metro will do this are slim. Still, I think it would be absurd to shift the line to Westpark west of Weslayan and terminate it on Westpark at 610. At the very minimum, it needs to terminate at Richmond and Post Oak.

As someone who normally champions the preservation of neighborhoods and distrusts the abuses of eminent domain, I'd normally oppose this proposal. In this case I'll make an exception.

A transportation artery is vital between downtown and Greenway Plaza/ the Galleria, and now is the time to deal with obstructions. Painful and expensive though it may be, the required demolition of homes and businesses along Richmond Avenue will be, in the long run, for the greater good of surrounding neighborhoods and the city as a whole. Delaying such a project will only prolong the agony, and can only lead to a compromised and perhaps unviable version of a modern public transportation system.

The question which must be addressed is how to widen the ROW along Richmond Avenue, and by what amount. It appears to me that many of the larger building on the north side of the street have sufficient set-back to allow for another lane of traffic to be installed. Will this be enough space to permit rail service in both directions? And would there be high enough ridership to offset the loss of existing parking lots?

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Guest danax

Would they really need to widen the street? There are 5 lanes (or 6?) west of Kirby then it loses a lane proceeding east but the left turn lanes could be converted. And the really nice oaks, which I think as a city we need to save, could be left with the train and stations alongside them, and then east of Kirby there are few trees until.....close to 59, right? So it seems to be a workable route as is. Of course, that's just an arm-chair engineer's opinion.

I also like the idea to scoot over to Westheimer around Westlayan.

Westpark is a complete loser of an idea.

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I've already expressed my views in another thread which boiled down is west on Richmond to Weslyan, north on Weslyan to Westheimer, west on Westheimer to Post Oak. The beautiful live oaks in Afton Oaks will remain un-touched as will the neighborhood, thus removing opposition on those points. This route hits every major current and future developement between Main and the loop. It is an absolute no-brainer.

Westpark is a deal killer-probably Culberson's motive.

Perhaps Martha Wong wouldn't like the construction disruption just one block from her condo at Greenway Plaza...perhaps she wont like the view...or maybe once the line is built, her beloved left turn onto Richmond will be no more.

Or maybe she's just in bed with Culberson on this one. Who knows. Anyone's guess is just as good.

You would think she would welcome such a great aminity within walking distance-seems it would only increase the value of her condo.

GreenwayCondominiums1-001.jpg

[Apt. 16F, if you were curious]

edit:

We seem to be ignoring the east leg of the University Line. Where will it be and how would that tie-in with the Richmond segment? Speaking of tie-ins, if Wong and Culberson prevail, what is their alternative? Get your key-map out and see where Westpark ends. How do they propose to get from Main to Kirby? Plow through Southhampton? Slap something onto the new segment of 59? Stop it at Main, get on a bus to Kirby then get back on to continue your trip to nowhere? I think attendance at next weeks Metro board meeting [Thursday Feb 16 at 1:00 pm; 1900 Main, 2nd floor Board Room

1:00 PM] by the anti Wong/Culberson forces could at least force them to come up with an alternative to this strip from Main to Kirby. Trust me. They will have their people there to do everything they can to kill a Richmond route.

Does anyone know what the format is for these meetings? Is there an opportunity to sign-up for public comments as in City Council meetings? Surely some of our fine HAIF associates must have this info.

B)

Edited by nmainguy

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I've already expressed my views in another thread which boiled down is west on Richmond to Weslyan, north on Weslyan to Westheimer, west on Westheimer to Post Oak. The beautiful live oaks in Afton Oaks will remain un-touched as will the neighborhood, thus removing opposition on those points. This route hits every major current and future developement between Main and the loop. It is an absolute no-brainer.

I'd have to disagree. It will take quite some brains to figure out how to get light rail to make a 90 degree right turn, and then just 8 blocks later another 90 degree left turn. Other than that, I agree with everyone here that Richmond is the way to go, and no Westpark.

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I'd have to disagree. It will take quite some brains to figure out how to get light rail to make a 90 degree right turn, and then just 8 blocks later another 90 degree left turn. Other than that, I agree with everyone here that Richmond is the way to go, and no Westpark.

A 90 degree turn could be accomplished with the cooperation of the developers of the HISD property and the owners of the Central Market property. It would be irresponsible to their stakeholders not to. Imminent domain should only be used as a last resort.

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I'd have to disagree. It will take quite some brains to figure out how to get light rail to make a 90 degree right turn, and then just 8 blocks later another 90 degree left turn. Other than that, I agree with everyone here that Richmond is the way to go, and no Westpark.

Why not? This was done on the current Main St. line with minimal additional right of way acquisition where the line turns off Greenbriar onto South Braeswood, and then just a couple of blocks later turns off South Braeswood onto Fannin. Yes, there is more development around the Richmond/Weslayan and Weslayan/Westheimer intersections, but it could be accomplished, as nmainguy said, but taking a small piece of property from the school on Richmond and a small piece of the corner of Central Market's parking lot.

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What I'm asking is: is it possible for lightrail to make a 90 degree turn at a single intersection?

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What I'm asking is: is it possible for lightrail to make a 90 degree turn at a single intersection?

The short answer to your question is 'Yes'. However, I suspect that you are asking if a light rail vehicle can negotiate a 90 degree turn in a normal sized car lane, and that answer would be No. Just as an 18 wheeler has to take up more than one lane to achieve the proper radius to make the turn, so would METRO's LRTs. But, the radius required is not much larger than needed for an 18 wheeler. Some LRT turns have as little as a 100 foot radius. This requires the train to slow to as little as 10 mph, but the turn can be made.

If the turn is made from the median of Richmond to a median on Wesleyan, no additional ROW is required. There likely would not be a median on Weslayan, though, so some other method of making the turn would be required.

But, it IS possible.

EDIT: I'm pretty sure Dallas' LRT makes a 90 degree turn in Downtown. Can someone verify?

Edited by RedScare

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I guess I'll ask this again because I really remain clueless.

If Wong and Culberson prevail, what is their alternative route between Main and Kirby where Westpark dead ends? Richmond? On 59? On top of the south wall of 59 adjacent to Southhampton and Broad Acres? You KNOW that will never happen.

Anyone have a clue or did W & C think it through that far-if at all? I read Culberson's letter [here's a snip]

I urge the METRO Board to respect the wishes of the people who have invested so much in their homes and businesses along Richmond, and build the rail line where it already has ample right of way along the Westpark Corridor.

and there was no mention of an alternate route.

There has also been little discussion on the eastern leg out to UH.

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What I'm asking is: is it possible for lightrail to make a 90 degree turn at a single intersection?

Yes. I was simply pointing out that not only is it possible, Houston's existing rail line already does this at two intersections.

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There has also been little discussion on the eastern leg out to UH.
Because nobody in the Third Ward is throwing a hissy-fit about a rail line tearing up Elgin or Wheeler

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Yes. I was simply pointing out that not only is it possible, Houston's existing rail line already does this at two intersections.

I think the existing line 45's and ends up taking up a midtown city block in both instances

Why is Westpark overwhelmingly dismissed as a bad idea?

I believe the area surrounding Westpark west of the 610 loop one of the most densely populated areas and home to many of this city's poor (i.e. w/o access to an automobile)

or is this plan to only go as far as the 610 loop, if that is the case, I can see why Richmond would be the most logical choice.

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I think the existing line 45's and ends up taking up a midtown city block in both instances

Why is Westpark overwhelmingly dismissed as a bad idea?

I believe the area surrounding Westpark west of the 610 loop one of the most densely populated areas and home to many of this city's poor (i.e. w/o access to an automobile)

or is this plan to only go as far as the 610 loop, if that is the case, I can see why Richmond would be the most logical choice.

Maybe you could tell us what the route would be between Main and Kirby if you want it on Westpark?

No one else seems to have a clue.

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^^^ That would involve crossing the SW Freeway via a bridge, which will also be tricky given that Spur 527 is being reconstructed and you have several new bridges crossing 59 already.

The best idea IMO is to run the E-W line down Richmond, turn it north at Weslayan and then west again at Westheimer. Your best bet for ridership on the western half of the line is here. It makes absolutely no sense to run and E-W line that doesn't directly serve Uptown (particularly, the Galleria). Run it down Westheimer until Hillcroft and then run it south to the Hillcroft Transit Center.

I can't imagine not getting between 20K and 25K per day on this leg if run along this corridor.

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^^^ That would involve crossing the SW Freeway via a bridge, which will also be tricky given that Spur 527 is being reconstructed and you have several new bridges crossing 59 already.

The best idea IMO is to run the E-W line down Richmond, turn it north at Weslayan and then west again at Westheimer. Your best bet for ridership on the western half of the line is here. It makes absolutely no sense to run and E-W line that doesn't directly serve Uptown (particularly, the Galleria). Run it down Westheimer until Hillcroft and then run it south to the Hillcroft Transit Center.

I can't imagine not getting between 20K and 25K per day on this leg if run along this corridor.

But where do you cross 59? And how do you get to this bridge from Main and Richmond? Run it on 527 to 59 then cross over...where?

It seems opponents to running it on Richmond don't have a clue of how to get it from Main to Kirby.

It really is time to call these people out and have them justify why it should be on Westpark and how do they propose "to get there from here."

A good start would be attending this Thursday's METRO board meeting.

BTW, Hizzy, your route is the same I have stated in addition to-I think-the majority in this thread.

B)

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Maybe you could tell us what the route would be between Main and Kirby if you want it on Westpark?

No one else seems to have a clue.

There is no Westpark between Main & Kirby? I think Westpark deadends/starts at Kirby, thereby the nearest crosstreet would be something to the dischord of Bissonett.

I hope you were not being sarcastic.

Richmond would certainly be a good idea but why take it through the already high end retail (that does quite well now itself) and not take it straight down Richmond (whose retail & businesses, I believe, has suffered the past few years) to Hillcroft. Why accomodate Mass transit to people who can afford automobiles? Why not use the proposed light rail to renew urban areas such as exemplified by the existing rail line.

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There is no Westpark between Main & Kirby? I think Westpark deadends/starts at Kirby, thereby the nearest crosstreet would be something to the dischord of Bissonett.

I hope you were not being sarcastic.

Richmond would certainly be a good idea but why take it through the already high end retail (that does quite well now itself) and not take it straight down Richmond (whose retail & businesses, I believe, has suffered the past few years) to Hillcroft. Why accomodate Mass transit to people who can afford automobiles? Why not use the proposed light rail to renew urban areas such as exemplified by the existing rail line.

To be fair, the Westpark corridor runs to Greenbriar, though it runs through an automobile dealer's parking lot! Imagine taking the light rail to purchase your SUV. :lol:

It also runs behind several businesses, including a Hooters. However, it eventually deadends at US 59, in an area where there is not even a feeder road.

Speaking of sarcasm, I hope you were not serious about running rail down Bissonnett, Jim. Can you imagine the uproar if THAT were suggested? As to why light rail should run where people can afford autos? The point is to get them out of their autos. Whether fair or not, rail bias dictates that the car driving public will get on a train, where they disdain busses. Also, METRO is trying to place the tracks where they garner the most riders, thereby justifying the building of more rail lines. The UH/TSU to Galleria line has by far the highest potential ridership...provided track is laid where people will USE it, as opposed to people's backyards, as Westpark would be.

BTW, while driving down Richmond today, I did not see that many trees in the median. Certainly, METRO, as part of the rebuild of Richmond, could and should line the street with trees. Further, I don't recall Mr. Culberson protecting very many trees along Katy Freeway when he helped expand it by a few hundred feet. Why the sudden conversion to Johnny Appleseed?

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Richmond would certainly be a good idea but why take it through the already high end retail (that does quite well now itself) and not take it straight down Richmond (whose retail & businesses, I believe, has suffered the past few years) to Hillcroft. Why accomodate Mass transit to people who can afford automobiles? Why not use the proposed light rail to renew urban areas such as exemplified by the existing rail line.

I think the reason is to avoid running the line right through the middle of a neighorhood. Afton Oaks (I think) starts at Weslayan and runs west all the way to I-610.

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So isn't the Richmond line only inside the loop? Metro's corridor from the old Southern Pacific rail is primarily outter loop. It may even cut off around Post Oak unless they own that strip that disappears behind Chick-Fil-A and CVS. It would quickly hit a dead end at US 59 where there are historic buildings and residential areas. I don't get the issue here unless everyone thinks it should follow Richmond all the way to where? BW8? Highway 6?

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To be fair, the Westpark corridor runs to Greenbriar, though it runs through an automobile dealer's parking lot! Imagine taking the light rail to purchase your SUV. :lol:

It also runs behind several businesses, including a Hooters. However, it eventually deadends at US 59, in an area where there is not even a feeder road.

Speaking of sarcasm, I hope you were not serious about running rail down Bissonnett, Jim. Can you imagine the uproar if THAT were suggested? As to why light rail should run where people can afford autos? The point is to get them out of their autos. Whether fair or not, rail bias dictates that the car driving public will get on a train, where they disdain busses. Also, METRO is trying to place the tracks where they garner the most riders, thereby justifying the building of more rail lines. The UH/TSU to Galleria line has by far the highest potential ridership...provided track is laid where people will USE it, as opposed to people's backyards, as Westpark would be.

BTW, while driving down Richmond today, I did not see that many trees in the median. Certainly, METRO, as part of the rebuild of Richmond, could and should line the street with trees. Further, I don't recall Mr. Culberson protecting very many trees along Katy Freeway when he helped expand it by a few hundred feet. Why the sudden conversion to Johnny Appleseed?

Red:

Westpark ends at Kirby. If there is a "Westpark corridor" behind Hooter's...wait!!! How would YOU know what's behind Hooter's???? :lol:

Anyway, I just got back from my doctor's office on Greenbriar there is no street dumping into Greenbriar at that location. [if it did run that far, I'd be concerned with my neice's safety as she lives in a complex north of North Blvd between Kirby and Greenbriar.]

But let's say it did run that far: where to next?

[Johnny Appleseed :lol: good one ;) ]

To infinite_jim:

Me? Sarcastic? Never. ;) Bissonet is another deal-killer. Talk about cutting down beautiful old trees to run a rail line down a mostly residential portion of the street...anyway, you get my drift.

B)

Edited by nmainguy

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nmain, you ignorant slut!

:lol:

I know Westpark Road ends at Kirby, but the railroad ROW continues on for a couple of blocks, until it angles into US 59. A quick look at Google Earth will show what I am talking about. It is basically a gravel driveway.

BTW, is anyone signing up to speak at METRO at 1:00 PM Thursday? I can't due to trial, but I sure wish someone could make some of the points that we are bringing up.

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METRO purchased the 100' railroad right-of-way that runs parallel to Westpark from Southern Pacific many years ago. They sold 50' to HCTRA so that the Westpark Toll Road could be built but they retain the other 50' for future rail service. Obviously, it would be ideal for METRO, at some point, to run the train down property they already own. The question is, how and where do you do it?

The Westpark ROW technically continues east of Shepherd, running concurrently with a Centerpoint easment just to the south of US 59, but it narrows to essentially nothing before it reaches Main Street. This, obviously, poses a massive engineering problem in that there's really no room to put the rail line. Squeezing the rail line into the sliver of space on the south edge of the Southwest Freeway would require some sort of stacking or tunneling method which is prohibitively expensive. Elevation is not an option because of the power lines and the arched bridges along 59, and running it within 59 itself (i.e. taking a lane or two of traffic out and replacing it with rail) isn't desirable either.

And then there's the ridership issue. Richmond is where the people are. Westpark is not. Especially in the area between the Spur and Shepherd, where UST, the Menil complex, scores of apartment complexes, etc. are. Not to mention all the commercial and office development between Shepherd and Greenway Plaza. Therefore, it just makes sense to run the rail from Main Street down Richmond to at least Greenway Plaza before making a turn across 59 and settling into the Westpark ROW.

The problem is that Richmond is only four lanes (two in each direction) between Main and Kirby. I drive that section of Richmond on an almost-daily basis; it's congested enough as it is and taking away two lanes of traffic to make room for the rail is simply not an option. Either the train is built above grade along this stretch (it needs to be elevated over Spur 527 anyway) or right-of-way will have to be taken along either side of the street to make room for the tracks.

There are apparently two main centers of opposition along Richmond: the Afton Oaks community west of Weslayan and a handful of business owners east of Shepherd. I'm not sure the Afton Oaks people have anything to worry about; METRO learned their lesson in 1989-91 when they tried to run the monorail through this affluent community. It's all but certain that this neighborhood will be avoided, most likely by the rail switching from Richmond to Westpark at Timmons or Weslayan. (I think a northward jog to Westheimer is a *very* remote possibility.)

Of bigger concern, in my opinion, is the opposition east of Shepherd. I can understand whatever concerns they have about construction impacts, possible loss of access, possible taking of right-of-way, and aesthetic impacts. Elevating the rail will mean cutting down the trees in the median and building a huge structure above the street. This will have significant aesthetic impacts. Keeping the train at-grade by widening Richmond will require parking lots and buildings to be taken, and it will likely involve some intersection closures as well.

However, we won't know the full extent of these impacts, and what possible mitigation measures would be necessary to minimize these impacts, until they are studied in detail. This is why Martha Wong is, well, wrong to demand that Richmond be taken off the table now before it has even been closely studied. What needs to occur here is careful analysis and planning (which usually occurs in the Preliminary Engineering / Environmental Impact Statement process) with lots of community involvement, not some cynical, politically-driven end run around the planning process.

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METRO purchased the 100' railroad right-of-way that runs parallel to Westpark from Southern Pacific many years ago. They sold 50' to HCTRA so that the Westpark Toll Road could be built but they retain the other 50' for future rail service. Obviously, it would be ideal for METRO, at some point, to run the train down property they already own. The question is, how and where do you do it?

I thought this was going to be used for commuter rail, not light rail.

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METRO purchased the 100' railroad right-of-way that runs parallel to Westpark from Southern Pacific many years ago. They sold 50' to HCTRA so that the Westpark Toll Road could be built but they retain the other 50' for future rail service. Obviously, it would be ideal for METRO, at some point, to run the train down property they already own. The question is, how and where do you do it?

The Westpark ROW technically continues east of Shepherd, running concurrently with a Centerpoint easment just to the south of US 59, but it narrows to essentially nothing before it reaches Main Street. This, obviously, poses a massive engineering problem in that there's really no room to put the rail line. Squeezing the rail line into the sliver of space on the south edge of the Southwest Freeway would require some sort of stacking or tunneling method which is prohibitively expensive. Elevation is not an option because of the power lines and the arched bridges along 59, and running it within 59 itself (i.e. taking a lane or two of traffic out and replacing it with rail) isn't desirable either.

And then there's the ridership issue. Richmond is where the people are. Westpark is not. Especially in the area between the Spur and Shepherd, where UST, the Menil complex, scores of apartment complexes, etc. are. Not to mention all the commercial and office development between Shepherd and Greenway Plaza. Therefore, it just makes sense to run the rail from Main Street down Richmond to at least Greenway Plaza before making a turn across 59 and settling into the Westpark ROW.

The problem is that Richmond is only four lanes (two in each direction) between Main and Kirby. I drive that section of Richmond on an almost-daily basis; it's congested enough as it is and taking away two lanes of traffic to make room for the rail is simply not an option. Either the train is built above grade along this stretch (it needs to be elevated over Spur 527 anyway) or right-of-way will have to be taken along either side of the street to make room for the tracks.

There are apparently two main centers of opposition along Richmond: the Afton Oaks community west of Weslayan and a handful of business owners east of Shepherd. I'm not sure the Afton Oaks people have anything to worry about; METRO learned their lesson in 1989-91 when they tried to run the monorail through this affluent community. It's all but certain that this neighborhood will be avoided, most likely by the rail switching from Richmond to Westpark at Timmons or Weslayan. (I think a northward jog to Westheimer is a *very* remote possibility.)

Of bigger concern, in my opinion, is the opposition east of Shepherd. I can understand whatever concerns they have about construction impacts, possible loss of access, possible taking of right-of-way, and aesthetic impacts. Elevating the rail will mean cutting down the trees in the median and building a huge structure above the street. This will have significant aesthetic impacts. Keeping the train at-grade by widening Richmond will require parking lots and buildings to be taken, and it will likely involve some intersection closures as well.

However, we won't know the full extent of these impacts, and what possible mitigation measures would be necessary to minimize these impacts, until they are studied in detail. This is why Martha Wong is, well, wrong to demand that Richmond be taken off the table now before it has even been closely studied. What needs to occur here is careful analysis and planning (which usually occurs in the Preliminary Engineering / Environmental Impact Statement process) with lots of community involvement, not some cynical, politically-driven end run around the planning process.

Good post.

METRO missed their opportunity years ago for not planning how to use their aquired ROW on 59 between Kirby and Main. As usual no one cooperated with anyone-ie METRO w/ TXDOT w/COH, etc...You gave all the reasons a rail route on 59 isn't going to happen: the bridges; the power lines; the removal of freeway lanes. In addition, you would have the quaranteed opposition from Southhampton and Broad Acres.

Everyone recognizes the problem of widening Richmond between Main and Kirby to accomodate the line. As far as elevating the line over 527, I don't think that is neccesary-check out Fannin under Holcomb. in addition you state:

It's all but certain that this neighborhood will be avoided, most likely by the rail switching from Richmond to Westpark at Timmons or Weslayan. (I think a northward jog to Westheimer is a *very* remote possibility.)

Many think jogging north to Westheimer on Weslyan is a very real possibility considering the potential for ridership. Riders catching this line from UH, TSU, Rice, St. Thomas, TMC, Dowtown and Midtown most likely are going to want to go SOMEPLACE...not to the Edloe stop on Westpark to visit the Kroger store.

You will never make everyone happy so at some point the bullet needs to be bitten. To hold this important east-west line hostage to people like Wong and Culberson who have offered no alternatives except removing Richmond from any discussion would be a travesty.

This is why I believe a concerted effort will be needed to offset the underhanded attempts of Wong and Culberson to undermine this entire project. Until they can come up with something more substansial than "I am writing to add my support for the Richmond Area Residents and Businesses for Rail, and urge that the Houston METRO Board of Directors oppose extending light rail down Richmond Avenue or Westheimer."

http://ctchouston.org/blogs/robin/ we should hold their feet to the fire and make them justify their plan-not the other way around.

B)

Edited by nmainguy

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Thanks for the info...and that's a nice blog you've got, too. :)

Thanks! I stumbled onto this thread and was very impressed with the discussion -- we need more of this, and less of the knee-jerk stuff I tend to see in transit discussions.

The discussion of what to do west of Weslayan is a good one. I'll have to do a post soon to explain my reasoning, but by no means do I think that jogging south to Westpark is the one right answer. Connections to the Post Oak area are critical for the success of this line. I'm thinking the right answer is through service onto the Uptown line (earlier post).

I've got a new post up now with a link to FAQs. I'd love to hear comments on hat I've left out and what I could say better or more fully: The Missing FAQ

Edited by Christof Spieler

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nmain, you ignorant slut!

:lol:

I am still ROFLMFAO ! Somebody get my portable defibulator STAT ! ! ! :lol:

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Good post.

You gave all the reasons a rail route on 59 isn't going to happen: the bridges; the power lines; the removal of freeway lanes. In addition, you would have the quaranteed opposition from Southhampton and Broad Acres.

Exactly! Those neighborhoods are just as organized and politically-connected as Afton Oaks.

Everyone recognizes the problem of widening Richmond between Main and Kirby to accomodate the line. As far as elevating the line over 527, I don't think that is neccesary-check out Fannin under Holcomb.
Well, the line's probably going to have to be elevated over Main Street anyway, and I don't think there's enough room to go from a +1 elevation to grade level between Main and the Spur.
Many think jogging north to Westheimer on Weslyan is a very real possibility considering the potential for ridership. Riders catching this line from UH, TSU, Rice, St. Thomas, TMC, Dowtown and Midtown most likely are going to want to go SOMEPLACE...not to the Edloe stop on Westpark to visit the Kroger store.

Hey! That's *my* Kroger store! (Well, one of them, at least. I go there when I have a big grocery list, but for small or essential items I usually go to the "Combat Kroger" behind the U of H campus.)

Anyway, I don't disagree with you. Westheimer does make sense for many reasons. I just see a lot of technical issues with a Richmond - Weslayan - Westheimer alignment, not the least of which is the need to negotiate two 90 degree turns, elevate over the UP line while running within Westheimer, and interface with the Uptown/Galleria BRT/LRT line at Post Oak. Plus the simple fact that Westpark is METRO's right-of-way, and they want to get into it at some point (lest HCTRA comes back and tries to buy the remaining 50' to widen the Westpark Toll Road).

The point is, all of these possible alignments need to be studied and discussed. This maneuver by Wong and Culberson needs to be called for what it is: a sham.

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Exactly! Those neighborhoods are just as organized and politically-connected as Afton Oaks.

Well, the line's probably going to have to be elevated over Main Street anyway, and I don't think there's enough room to go from a +1 elevation to grade level between Main and the Spur.

Hey! That's *my* Kroger store! (Well, one of them, at least. I go there when I have a big grocery list, but for small or essential items I usually go to the "Combat Kroger" behind the U of H campus.)

Anyway, I don't disagree with you. Westheimer does make sense for many reasons. I just see a lot of technical issues with a Richmond - Weslayan - Westheimer alignment, not the least of which is the need to negotiate two 90 degree turns, elevate over the UP line while running within Westheimer, and interface with the Uptown/Galleria BRT/LRT line at Post Oak. Plus the simple fact that Westpark is METRO's right-of-way, and they want to get into it at some point (lest HCTRA comes back and tries to buy the remaining 50' to widen the Westpark Toll Road).

The point is, all of these possible alignments need to be studied and discussed. This maneuver by Wong and Culberson needs to be called for what it is: a sham.

This line will intersect the Red Line at Main and Richmond-across from Sears. I imagine that would be a pretty major interchange and feasable to do it all at street level as every train will stop there. That would eliminate and elevated section at 527. [i hate elevated lines!]

We addressed the 2 90 degree turns earlier in this thread. I suggested the new owners of the HISD property and Central Market donate a slice of their property as well. I would imagine there would be stops at both intersections so land devoted to the stations and turns would only enhance the HISD property as well as Central Market.

Once again I agree with your statements regarding The Gang of Two. They definatly need to be called out on their underhanded way of dealing with this.

B)

I am still ROFLMFAO ! Somebody get my portable defibulator STAT ! ! ! :lol:

TJ:

Get some rest, brother. -_-

B)

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Thanks! I stumbled onto this thread and was very impressed with the discussion -- we need more of this, and less of the knee-jerk stuff I tend to see in transit discussions.

That's why I like this board, too. There's actual, thoughtful, technical discussion of transit here, not the typical METRO-bashing that seems to occur elsewhere.

Good job with the FAQ, too. It addresses a lot of the accusations that rail opponents have attempted to use over the years.

This line will intersect the Red Line at Main and Richmond-across from Sears. I imagine that would be a pretty major interchange and feasable to do it all at street level as every train will stop there. That would eliminate and elevated section at 527.

METRO and STV engineers have already said that they cannot put a rail junction at street level. It would kill the Richmond / Wheeler intersection. Also, nowhere in the United States do two actual light rail systems cross perpendiculalrly at grade. The operational issues involved are enormous.

We addressed the 2 90 degree turns earlier in this thread. I suggested the new owners of the HISD property and Central Market donate a slice of their property as well.

Makes sense. I guess it all depends on the amount of property that will be required. The point is, it all needs to be STUDIED! By saying "you can't put rail on Richmond or Westheimer," Wong and Culberson are trying to keep all these issues from even being identified.

Edited by The Voice of University Oaks

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This line seems to be in a close proximity to Lamar High School (It's not next door, but it's close), so maybe a transfer station should be picked and a bus line can go between the transfer station and the River Oaks/Lamar Stop.

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Im all for extending the light rail lines. Having traveled the world and still travel different points in the world on a nearly weekly basis, its a shame to see my hometown-Houston-behind smaller and less comparable cities when it comes to mass transit! I for one am no fan of buses but i would take a train in a heart beat! A world class city like Houston needs a world class transit system. Lightrail can open the door to many opportunities the city has yet to experience. Given the upward direction in fuel cost, it would be smart to plan and break ground on the futureof our city with the light rail lines! Having a viable mass transit system is paramount to future growth and development.

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METRO and STV engineers have already said that they cannot put a rail junction at street level. It would kill the Richmond / Wheeler intersection. Also, nowhere in the United States do two actual light rail systems cross perpendiculalrly at grade. The operational issues involved are enormous.

Metro currently owns the entire block bounded by Wheeler, Main, 59 and Fannin. The current station is no where near the intersection. I can definatly see both lines crossing there.

BTW: I saw a group of hysterical Afton Oaks residents on 11News @ 6 tonight badgering a METRO official-maybe it was a practice session for tomorrow's meeting.

B)

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