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Clutterbuck’s alternative rail plan

City Council member Anne Clutterbuck has revised and extended her earlier statements about an alternate plan for the Universities line that drew the ire of fellow Council member Ada Edwards. After making nice to Edwards about ot consulting her beforehand on a plan that affects her district, Clutterbuck clarified her vision.

Clutterbuck explained that while driving on Dallas’ North Central Expressway she had seen a light rail line suspended over the wall of the freeway and asked Metropolitan Transit Authority officials to consider a similar arrangement here.

“Metro showed me their plan and said ‘you’d take all these houses,’ but I said, ‘You’re not listening – that’s not what I’m asking. You wouldn’t have to take all those houses if it’s cantilevered.”

Morgan Lyons, spokesman for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, said he consulted with a DART engineer and neither of them could think of a DART line suspended as described. Lyons said parts of the system are elevated over freeways at crossings or run parallel to freeways, possibly appearing cantilevered when seen from a car.

Clutterbuck said she also asked Metro to study “the best practices” followed in other cities and avoid crossing Kirby Drive in the street.

That doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies. But there’s an issue with cantilevering, or elevating, or suspending, or whatever you want to call it, and that’s cost. Putting these tracks up in the air is a more expensive proposition than running them at grade. Will Metro be able to afford that? Will John Culberson, who has asked Metro to study this option, see to it that Metro can afford it if it keeps his precious Richmond business owners happy? If the answer to either of these questions is No, then we’re just wasting our time here.

One more thing:

Glen Eisen, who lives on Castle Court a block north of the freeway, said that even if the rail were suspended, Metro would still have to take some homes to reach Main. Clutterbuck said she had not investigated how Metro might accomplish that transition or how the cantilever technique would affect the signature bridges over the freeway.

We’ve all heard plenty from the anti-Richmond crowd. Is Culberson going to be as responsive to the homeowners who live near this alternative route as he was to the Richmond folks if they decide it will destroy their neighborhood? These are his constituents, too. I can just about guarantee that if this alternate route winds up getting taken seriously, the affected homeowners will kick up a fuss. What will Culberson do when that happens?

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5 Comments

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    We’ve all heard plenty from the anti-Richmond crowd. Is Culberson going to be as responsive to the homeowners who live near this alternative route as he was to the Richmond folks if they decide it will destroy their neighborhood? These are his constituents, too. I can just about guarantee that if this alternate route winds up getting taken seriously, the affected homeowners will kick up a fuss. What will Culberson do when that happens?

    METRO runs into far fewer objections the closer it adheres to the Westpark route that was approved by voters in 2003, a point underscored by Rep. Culberson in an email I posted (perhaps you didn’t see it). There was a majority vote for rail on Westpark — where METRO has plenty of right-of-way that surely helps the cost issue — and that gives METRO broad support to do what needs to be done with regard to that route. When METRO decides Westpark really means Richmond, it shouldn’t be surprising if some people object, including a Congressman whose district is involved.

    Instead of issuing misleading press releases late on Fridays when it’s hard to track down people for verification (therefore resulting in confusing reporting), METRO would be better served to concentrate on building the best Westpark rail line it can design, preferably a mostly grade-separated one in order to avoid the safety and mobility issues of the Main Street line.

  2. You really ought to consider applying for a job in Culberson’s office, Kevin. You seem to know more about what’s going on in his head than anyone else, and you certainly have the talking points down.

    But to get back to my questions, which you artfully did not answer: Will Culberson commit to pushing through the necessary funds for Metro if they choose this alternate route, and how will he address the inevitable objections of these constituents of his when they complain that he’s favoring one small set of people over everybody else?

  3. Kenneth Fair says:

    This talking point from Culberson — that Kevin parrots so faithfully — is unadulterated, disingenuous claptrap.

    I voted for the METRO Solutions plan in 2003. I most certainly did not vote for a train route on Westpark as opposed to a train route on Richmond. I voted for METRO to issue bonds. The bonds were to pay for an overall, comprehensive plan to install multiple train lines around the city. I knew at the time I voted that many different options would be studied before the final line alignments would be decided upon, and that they’d depend on things like rights-of-way, cost, ridership, environmental impacts, and other such factors. This was made perfectly clear — certainly in the information presented in the local news — in the run-up to the vote.

    I’m not particularly well-informed about transit issues, but unlike Kevin it seems, I actually paid attention to what I was voting on.

    Culberson’s opposition to the plan is clear: he’s in the pocket of those companies that have an interest in more and bigger freeways. He couldn’t give less of a damn about the folks on Richmond, except as how they give him political cover to service his contributors.

  4. Kevin Whited says:

    You really ought to consider applying for a job in Culberson’s office, Kevin. You seem to know more about what’s going on in his head than anyone else, and you certainly have the talking points down.

    Talking points is weak, not to mention amusing coming from the guy who opened up his blog to how many Democratic guest blogger politicians over the past week or so. 🙂

    I do highly recommend to bloggers and journalists alike that they email or call pols when they have questions about issues or media reports. I did what any other blogger or journalist might have done to get information from Culberson/staff, and the comments I obtained added to the story and cleared up some questions about METRO’s press release. I don’t really understand your or any objection to that.

    However, your characterization that I know what is going on in Rep. Culberson’s head is just erroneous. I don’t claim that. I’ve posted quotes obtained from him and his staff, and I can make deductions about what public statements mean. I see lots of that here and from other bloggers. If that’s mindreading, maybe we should form a Psychic Bloggers’ Club or something, huh? I nominate you for Prez if you’ll nominate me for Vice-Prez!

    Seriously, you can choose to ignore the information I posted, and you can make really weak, off-topic comebacks about my applying to join Culberson’s staff if you like, but the fact is that the comments relate to your questions.

    Rep. Culberson has previously stated he will work to obtain funding for Metro Solutions, so I’m certainly not speaking for him to repeat that. He seems to view Richmond as a departure from Metro Solutions, as do I. If your question is, to what extent will Rep. Culberson allow Metro to depart from Metro Solutions before he threatens funding, I’d suggest you email his office. I have no way of answering that question, nor would I even attempt it, but I do think it’s logical to deduce from statements so far that his level of cooperation may have something to do with the extent to which Metro sticks to Metro Solutions.

  5. I do think it’s logical to deduce from statements so far that his level of cooperation may have something to do with the extent to which Metro sticks to Metro Solutions.

    You mean how closely they stick to his interpretation of Metro Solutions. Clearly, not everyone sees it as he does. I seem to recall an effort to file a lawsuit over this. Whatever happened to that?