This has been a long time coming.
For the first time in 10 years, workers this morning poured concrete for a new section of Metro light-rail track.
The 80-foot section of steel rail will be part of the 6.6-mile Southeast Line. The line, scheduled for completion in 2014, will extend from Smith Street downtown to the Palm Center in southeast Houston at Griggs and Beekman Roads.
It’s taken way too long to get to this point, but at least we’re here. For now, let’s be happy with reaching this stage of the journey, however later than we originally thought we’d reach it. Write On Metro has more.
UPDATE: A later version of the story contains this:
Metro officials said they are expecting approval soon of a $900 million federal grant delayed last year by the agency’s violation of a federal Buy American requirement in procuring light-rail cars from a Spanish company. The agency’s confidence is sufficient to include money from the grant in next year’s budget, and to prepare to sell rail-construction bonds for the first time in more than two years.
Metro President and CEO George Greanias said Wednesday he couldn’t provide details about the timing of the federal grant, known as a Full Funding Grant Agreement under the New Starts program.
At Metro’s July 28 board meeting, just before Greanias began a one-week suspension for visiting sexually explicit websites on his personal computer through the Metro Internet system, he and other agency officials spoke with guarded optimism about the grant.
“They are now in the process of being reviewed by the executive team at the Federal Transit Administration,” he told the board. “That is the last step before they go out the door. I’m not about to predict what day of the week they’ll go out, but I think it’s going to be in the near future.”
Also at the July 28 meeting, the board approved a bond sale of up to about $463 million for rail construction. Greanias said those bonds likely will be sold in September.
Talk about things that are long overdue. Keep your fingers crossed.