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Metro Light Rail Southeast (Purple) Line - Latest news on construction

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http://www.chron.com...p#photo-2759597

I don't get it. Why doesn't METRO just remove the tree and lay the track? If the community wants this, then the community should pay for it through a mechanism other than its transportation agency.

I totally agree.

screw the tree.

Let the community activists build a better memorial as they see fit from their own pockets.

Now, if Ike blew down that tree, this whole thing wouldn't even be an issue.

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Yeah, METRO shouldn't have to pay for moving a tree. But if METRO didn't pay for it, the city of Houston probably would have. Either way, it comes out of our pockets.

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Yeah, METRO shouldn't have to pay for moving a tree. But if METRO didn't pay for it, the city of Houston probably would have. Either way, it comes out of our pockets.

The City of Houston and METRO are not the same entity. When METRO misuses funds, it validates the concerns of other METRO member cities that their interests and their funds are being responsibly and fairly administered. And besides, this is effectively allocating money away from transit to other uses; that money will never come back to transit in any way shape or form. It is gone forever.

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I don't understand why it would take 3 million to reroute around the tree. Couldn't they just go a few feet to either side of the tree?

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The City of Houston and METRO are not the same entity. When METRO misuses funds, it validates the concerns of other METRO member cities that their interests and their funds are being responsibly and fairly administered. And besides, this is effectively allocating money away from transit to other uses; that money will never come back to transit in any way shape or form. It is gone forever.

Yes I understand that. But I am doubting that the residents would be agle to conjure up the money themselves, and it would evolve into a situation much like the East End Line bridge, where the City of Houston ended up footing the bill to entrench the light rail line.

Agreed. A waste of money indeed.

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The Harrisburg underpass is an order of magnitude more expensive. If the City will finance that, I cannot imagine that this would be an impossible request. Besides, there are also a fair number of overlapping CDCs, TIRZs, and Management Districts that serve the OST corridor as I recall. There's plenty of money out there, plus whatever SJL might be able to bring in from DC. If the community can't get funding from a legitimate source, it can only possibly be because they don't care enough.

Edited by TheNiche
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Now, if Ike blew down that tree, this whole thing wouldn't even be an issue.

or if someone were to go in at night and cut it down leaving a note that they are saving tax dollars.....

Of course, I kid.

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Greanias made the point that the tree would already be dead if METRO hadn't watered it during the drought.

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Damn. So I can't flick a cig in the canopy to make it turn into a giant torch?

I'd have to practice considering I don't smoke.

Edited by ricco67

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Not sure of the exact location, but I know it is in fact the Columbia Tap Rail Trail.

It looks like, based on Google Maps (it's between Lamar and McKinney) the CTRT was moved closer to the red building. Did they really tear up that section of bike trail and rebuild it, even though it hasn't even been five years yet?!

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Did they really tear up that section of bike trail and rebuild it, even though it hasn't even been five years yet?!

What, were you expecting some strategic vision or something? :lol:

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For those curious of the alignment of this rail as it splits from the other rail outside of downtown, the split happens right at the stadium, it continues on Texas, where the East line goes up Harrisburg.

Once Texas ends, it veers right along the real railroad for a few blocks, then runs parallel to the bike trail (which is fully rebuilt), and then it goes over to Scott street via Dallas street. All the rail is in, and they've started putting in the poles for the overhead power stuff.

You can easily ride a bicycle down the track now to get a good understanding of the alignment...

I haven't figured out where the stops are after the one at the stadium, but they're definitely working on the stop at the stadium, I assume they're trying to get it done before the first game (even if the rail isn't going, they probably want to complete as much work here as they can before the stadium opens).

Edited by samagon

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http://www.chron.com...p#photo-2759597

I don't get it. Why doesn't METRO just remove the tree and lay the track? If the community wants this, then the community should pay for it through a mechanism other than its transportation agency.

The community already did pay for it. $100K is probably a trivial amount to pay not to create an uproar in the community (and enemies on future ballot measures). Paying for a monument as well was unnecessary, though.

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The stop after EaDo/Stadium is Leeland/Third Ward. Some of the concrete for the split side platforms is going in already.

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It's funny the same people who have a problem with Metro spending $750K on this tree relocation/memorial combination have no issue with the 20+ year siphoning of Metro funds for non-Metro purposes including the depletion of a $650 million transit surplus in early 90s.

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No, what the City did with the diversion of funds is completely legitimate. The City also has the option of not having a transit agency and using that one-point sales tax for an economic development organization instead that has broad powers to allocate the expenditure of funds. The City could actually do lots things with their sales tax revenue so long as it doesn't exceed the state-mandated level of 8.25%. So...if they don't want to allocate the full point to METRO then that's their prerogative. The City is in charge. They get to decide.

But if METRO uses money to fund something unrelated to its mission, then its as though METRO has just told the City, "HEY, YOU GUYS! YOU DIDN'T TAKE ENOUGH OF OUR TRANSIT MONEY AWAY FROM US TO DO NON-TRANSIT PROJECTS! THAT'S NOT RIGHT! WE'RE GOING TO DO A NON-TRANSIT PROJECT FOR YOU!" Yeah...that'll show 'em... And then METRO will no doubt ask for their money back...but to do what with, exactly? Transit or non-transit? Its ridiculous. They just want to do what they want to do. It's crap like this that makes me think that METRO shouldn't get any more money until its charter is re-tooled, board members get elected, and the ethical standards are made more enforceable.

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And I could be a trillionaire if I were born under different circumstances. We're not talking about what COULD be. We're not talking about options. We are talking about the situation AS IS. AS IS, the city does have a transit agency that is supposed to be funded by a ONE CENT sales tax. A WHOLE penny, not .75 of a penny. So, with that being said, your outrage at Metro spending a projected 750K on a "non transit" expenditure is laughable when the city has "legitimately" robbed the agency of close to, if not, a billion dollars over the past 20 years.

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The City giveth and the City taketh away. It was their money to begin with. They can't steal it from their own cause. And need I remind you, METRO is at the City's mercy, not the other way around. That's not unintentional. Nor is it unjust if METRO is going to misuse its money while "underfunded".

Let's say you were a homeless meth addict that camps out in my neighborhood and I give you change on a regular basis. There's a pinch on my budget for a few months, so I cut back my giving by 25%. You accuse me of stealing from you and the neighbors reveal your addiction to something that costs you the money that you don't have enough of to be doing in the first place. Should I capitulate to you and give you money that I don't have the income to replace, or should I cut you off until the addiction is broken (ideally being proactive and supportive to further your rehabilitation)?

METRO is a whiny, greedy homeless meth addict. We should reform it, not merely prop it up.

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METRO is a whiny, greedy homeless meth addict. We should reform it, not merely prop it up.

Agreed. But that is also the way it was set up - to be dependent on the City's whims. In the ideal world since that's what everybody espouses on here with their opininions, Metro should be cut free from the city or completely absorbed. Instead it's an Enron-esqe off-balance sheet entity that is under the City's control. It's board members should be elected - not appointed so they are the Mayor's lap dogs. Clean it up ( like that will every happen in a governmental agency) and put a 5-year plan in effect for them to get their $.0025 back. That would give the City ample time to figure out how to pay for the services that Metro is currently funding.

Of course that is how I wish all government was run - on a strict segregated fund basis. If there is a revenue stream for a particlular purpose - Metro $.01 tax for example - then it should be completely segregated and utilized for that purpose. If the city needs money for it's roads/police/slush fund - then it should raise it's own taxes to properly reflect it's costs instead of relying on machinations to give the appearance of a low tax rate.

This should also extend to the state. I remember reading an article a few years ago on how the State Parks and hunting/fishing license revenues bring in something like $70 million a year. When the license fees were set up, they were sold as going to support State Parks and Wildlife. But the annual budget for state parks is something like $10 million ( my numbers may be off - but the result is the same). The rest gets sucked up by the general fund and the guvner gets to crow about low taxes. When asked about the State parks shortfall - I seem to remember his answer was the Parks department wouldn't know how to spend that much money and would waste it. What a crock. If anybody has been to the State Parks - they would actually see a pretty good use of a very small amount of money. They do what they can on the shoestring budget - but there is tons of deferred maintenance. And there are parks they don't have the money to develop - that's why Houston has Lake Houston Wilderness Park - the state owned if for years but didn't have any funds for it.

In ideal world-ville we would get elected officials with the cojones to pass laws requireing segregated funds - but that won't happen in my lifetime.

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Agreed. But that is also the way it was set up - to be dependent on the City's whims. In the ideal world since that's what everybody espouses on here with their opininions, Metro should be cut free from the city or completely absorbed. Instead it's an Enron-esqe off-balance sheet entity that is under the City's control. It's board members should be elected - not appointed so they are the Mayor's lap dogs. Clean it up ( like that will every happen in a governmental agency) and put a 5-year plan in effect for them to get their $.0025 back. That would give the City ample time to figure out how to pay for the services that Metro is currently funding.

Of course that is how I wish all government was run - on a strict segregated fund basis. If there is a revenue stream for a particlular purpose - Metro $.01 tax for example - then it should be completely segregated and utilized for that purpose. If the city needs money for it's roads/police/slush fund - then it should raise it's own taxes to properly reflect it's costs instead of relying on machinations to give the appearance of a low tax rate.

This should also extend to the state. I remember reading an article a few years ago on how the State Parks and hunting/fishing license revenues bring in something like $70 million a year. When the license fees were set up, they were sold as going to support State Parks and Wildlife. But the annual budget for state parks is something like $10 million ( my numbers may be off - but the result is the same). The rest gets sucked up by the general fund and the guvner gets to crow about low taxes. When asked about the State parks shortfall - I seem to remember his answer was the Parks department wouldn't know how to spend that much money and would waste it. What a crock. If anybody has been to the State Parks - they would actually see a pretty good use of a very small amount of money. They do what they can on the shoestring budget - but there is tons of deferred maintenance. And there are parks they don't have the money to develop - that's why Houston has Lake Houston Wilderness Park - the state owned if for years but didn't have any funds for it.

In ideal world-ville we would get elected officials with the cojones to pass laws requireing segregated funds - but that won't happen in my lifetime.

Perhaps some form of uprising will get the attention of the elected buffoons?

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Perhaps some form of uprising will get the attention of the elected buffoons?

Nah - it would never work. Too much entrenched power in the status quo. Plus any semi-successful movement would be co-opted by the powers that be.

Although a good ol' tar and feathering would be entertaining.

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Wasn't METRO's sales tax approved by voters? If that's the case, then taking 25% of that isn't what voters wanted, is it? Although it's obvious that the city of Houston has the right to take away METRO's money, that doesn't mean they should. If the city needs more money, don't take it away from a source that's been approved by voters. Just create a new tax and have citizens vote on that.

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Wasn't METRO's sales tax approved by voters? If that's the case, then taking 25% of that isn't what voters wanted, is it? Although it's obvious that the city of Houston has the right to take away METRO's money, that doesn't mean they should. If the city needs more money, don't take it away from a source that's been approved by voters. Just create a new tax and have citizens vote on that.

To do so would make the council look like even bigger buffoons than what they appear to be now.

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Wasn't METRO's sales tax approved by voters? If that's the case, then taking 25% of that isn't what voters wanted, is it? Although it's obvious that the city of Houston has the right to take away METRO's money, that doesn't mean they should. If the city needs more money, don't take it away from a source that's been approved by voters. Just create a new tax and have citizens vote on that.

Yep, I think so, but Pleak nailed it. The issue with shifting funds between agencies is so endemic throughout the state that voters can never be completely sure that what they've voted to allow their money to be used for is what their money will actually be used for. Major reforms are needed to encourage inter-agency financial transparency, but 'big government' 'tax-and-spend' Republicans like Rick Perry would never allow it.

This is also why I opposed the City's drainage fee. It's basically just a pass-through mechanism to maintain the status quo while funding unsexy pension obligations...without officials having to pass a property tax increase.

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Yep, I think so, but Pleak nailed it. The issue with shifting funds between agencies is so endemic throughout the state that voters can never be completely sure that what they've voted to allow their money to be used for is what their money will actually be used for. Major reforms are needed to encourage inter-agency financial transparency, but 'big government' 'tax-and-spend' Republicans like Rick Perry would never allow it.

This is also why I opposed the City's drainage fee. It's basically just a pass-through mechanism to maintain the status quo while funding unsexy pension obligations...without officials having to pass a property tax increase.

and the worst part of the whole 'drainage fee' is it's not a tax, so I can't deduct from income tax :(

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Question regarding the Southeast and East End Line.... Both terminate at Smith St downtown. Will these eventually be extended? And, if so, where? I can not find any info on master plans anywhere.

Thanks!

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Although there was some discussion long ago regarding the opportunity to extend from the Smith Street station to the Northwest Transit Center, those plans were revised away. It may happen in the distant future, but not on any sort of time horizon for which you should consider it as being impactful.

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expect the westward expansion of this line to be happening around phase 23, which should be around year 2178.

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Heh. I'm not sure that alignment is feasible with the highway improvements, but I'm sure they would have used the railroad trestle bridge just West of the "yale deathtrap bridge" to cross the bayou there.

Edited by JJxvi

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that poor yale bridge will eventually have to support light rail in addition to 18 wheelers?

School buses full of children plunging into a ravine...bad

Streetcars full of hip pedestrians shopping at locally owned stores plunging into a ravine...not bad.

Apparently.

Edited by RedScare

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for the two of you interested in the purple line, here is the newest video.

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Very cool to see the progress. Huge construction projects are so fun to follow, lol.

Appreciate you taking the time to shoot and upload this.

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Good news, it looks like UH and Metro watched your video and realized they were being silly and decided to resolve their disagreement.

http://www.chron.com...ute-3751395.php

Construction of a light-rail line that would cross University of Houston property can continue now that UH and Metro officials settled differences that threatened to delay the project.

Under the deal, the routes and stops will not change, but Metro has agreed to provide an alternative access road to ease potential problems along Wheeler.

Edited by asubrt

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Good to hear. That whole thing was so silly anyway.

"Metro has agreed to provide an alternative access road to ease potential problems along Wheeler."

Designed and construction underway and it took UH to inform METRO there would be mobility problems along Wheeler with the design?

I guess building "an alternative access road" won't torpedo the budget so METRO can keep its PR dept fully staffed.

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"Metro has agreed to provide an alternative access road to ease potential problems along Wheeler."

Designed and construction underway and it took UH to inform METRO there would be mobility problems along Wheeler with the design?

I guess building "an alternative access road" won't torpedo the budget so METRO can keep its PR dept fully staffed.

If UH thought there would be "mobility problems" then they had years to determine that and negotiate with METRO. I remember looking at engineering drawings of the line around UH years before construction started.

And I thought that UH didn't want this because of a loss of parking spaces? So now all of the sudden they're okay with losing those parking spaces now that they have an extra driveway? Seems weird.

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so long as the kids can get in and start looking for parking, that's the important thing, if they spend all their time trying to get in the entrance, that's no bueno.

isn't the university taking steps to try and have more kids live on campus anyway, thus negating their need for vehicular transportation?

Edited by samagon

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It seems fair to credit (blame) UH for this problem at least as much as Metro. Metro worked with UH for years on the station placement, etc., and as mentioned above, the plans have been out there for all to see for years.

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Good to hear. That whole thing was so silly anyway.

It was silly that METRO had not reached out to UH to finalize an agreement in the design process, before breaking ground.

It was $1.5 million dollars of silliness, plus legal costs and whatever delays may have been incurred. I'm not sure that I'd call it a win for UH, though. They should've gotten more out of it IMO.

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so long as the kids can get in and start looking for parking, that's the important thing, if they spend all their time trying to get in the entrance, that's no bueno.

isn't the university taking steps to try and have more kids live on campus anyway, thus negating their need for vehicular transportation?

Well let's see, there aren't any full-sized grocery stores within walking distance of the dorms, and the closest one that comes even close is the Southeast Line will be Phoenicia at Discovery Green. For lower prices and a better selection, they could transfer to the Red Line and take it to Randall's Midtown or Fiesta Midtown, but they'd best not be purchasing anything frozen.

Unfortunately, the neighborhood around UH still isn't very student-friendly. And a lot of UH students have off-campus jobs, too. The students living in dorms have always had parking lots assigned to them. I doubt that that will change.

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Well let's see, there aren't any full-sized grocery stores within walking distance of the dorms, and the closest one that comes even close is the Southeast Line will be Phoenicia at Discovery Green. For lower prices and a better selection, they could transfer to the Red Line and take it to Randall's Midtown or Fiesta Midtown, but they'd best not be purchasing anything frozen.

Kroger on Cullen?

Edited by kylejack

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