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Don’t write off the University line

Metro certainly hasn’t, judging by what they’re saying.

“Dallas has almost 100 miles of light rail,” Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia told a business luncheon Tuesday. “Certainly we can get to The Galleria.”

What hasn’t been figured out, yet, is how to pay for the project. Federal money was heavily leveraged to get the North Line and Southeast Line to construction, but Metro is assuming a lot of the costs. And the agency is building the East Line without federal money.

In order to attract more federal funds, Metro will still have to pay up to get the University Line going. With a price tag of $1.3 billion, according to the project’s environmental report, that won’t be easy.

That’s what leaves a lot of opponents to the referendum fearing that it will ultimately doom rail. The overwhelming decision by voters to continue general mobility payments to the cities, they worry, will leave Metro with the money to run what it has, but little else.

I never thought the University line would disappear – it’s too useful, and too necessary, for that – but it was clear it would be delayed. I mean, it’s already delayed, but even if Metro could have gotten the full penny of sales tax revenue, there were and are numerous obstacles in its path for this line. The question is how long will it take before Metro feels it can start pushing forward on this again, and what will the status of the existing obstacles be when that happens. I figure the next time to check on that is after the last of the lines that are currently under construction is finished. By that time, the modified GMP will be in place, Metro’s sales tax projections will hopefully be back to where they were before the economic downturn of 2008, and there will be no other big capital projects out there. In the meantime, it’s good to hear Metro talk like this. See the Metro blog for more on their status, and on a tangential note be sure to see Jeff Balke’s story and slideshow about the construction of the other rail lines. Link via Houston Tomorrow.

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2 Comments

  1. robert says:

    Light rail is VERY expensive to build…. and since they are dreaming, they should at least look at tubularrail.com

  2. Andrew Lynch says:

    the university line is what they should have built, the heavy traffic in Houston is the galleria to university area.

    I’m all for keeping the federal government out of the equation and costs low. But this line would be a major benefit to young professionals and university students.

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