Metro has received word that final approval has been given concerning the environmental review process for the University light-rail line.
“Houston clearly needs the University Line as an East-West transit artery,” said George Greanias, action president and CEO of the transit agency. “We’re extremely gratified the FTA has taken a big step in advancing this important project.”
The approval in the form of a federal Record of Decision allows Metro to go forward with utility coordination, design and pre-construction planning along the 11.3-mile route, some of which will run along Richmond Avenue from roughly Main to Cummins streets.
Metro’s press release about the FTA action is beneath the fold. There is of course still the matter of getting federal funds, and ensuring that Metro’s financial position is sufficiently strong to carry the debt load all this will eventually incur, but that’s a concern for another day. Between this and the conclusion of the document shredding investigation, it’s been a pretty darned good week for Metro.
On a side note, you can see Metro’s response to the FTA concerning Buy America. Maybe they can go three for three and get a favorable resolution to this soon, too.
UPDATE: Here’s the Chron story on the record of decision.
The NEW METRO has received good news in the form of a federal Record of Decision (ROD) on the University light-rail line, signifying final approval of the environmental review process on this 11.3-mile project. With this approval, METRO will continue to evolve the design, engineering, utility coordination, pre-construction planning work, and ongoing FTA coordination needed to go forward while renewing community outreach efforts to make sure the public continues to be engaged in this historic project.
The University light-rail line is part of a regional transit plan serving the area via 19 stations between the Hillcroft and Eastwood Transit Centers with stops near Greenway Plaza, the University of St. Thomas, Texas Southern University and UH Central Campus. This project is part of a five-line rail plan that includes the East End, North, Uptown and Southeast Lines. The East End, North, and Southeast lines are under construction, while the Uptown line is in the design phase.
METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia praised the ongoing efforts of Houston’s Congressional leaders for supporting rail expansion and working to secure federal funds. “The environmental approval on the University Line puts us one big step forward in the federal funding process,” Garcia said. “The Houston region owes a debt of gratitude to leaders like Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, as well as Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Gene Green and Al Green for their tireless efforts to fund light rail expansion in Houston.”
George Greanias, Acting President and CEO of METRO, says the agency is committed to responsible stewardship of the public’s transit dollars. “We appreciate all the work required to win federal funding: from Congressional and community leaders to the METRO staff. Houston clearly needs the University Line as an East-West transit artery. We’re extremely gratified the FTA has taken a big step in advancing this important project.”