Unfortunately, Culberson has won again.
In a repeat of last year, Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, took their dispute over the Metropolitan Transit Agency’s University Line to the floor of the House on Monday.
Culberson, as he has for the past two years, added a section to the federal transportation spending bill for fiscal 2015 that “bars the use of funds to advance in any way a new light or heavy rail project … if the proposed capital project is constructed on (or planned to be constructed on) Richmond Avenue west of South Shepherd Drive or on Post Oak Boulevard north of Richmond Avenue.”
Poe represents the area along Richmond east of Shepherd, where he says people want to build the rail line voters approved in 2003. He proposed stripping Culberson’s provision from the spending bill, calling it an “inappropriate overreach by the federal government” while conceding the line deeply divides the Houston area.
“Debate that issue in the city,” Poe said. “Don’t let Congress come in and overrule the will of the people.”
Poe rejected arguments that the money would be wasted if Metro was eligible.
“It is not going back into the coffers, it is not going to pay down the national debt,” he said. “It’s already spent. It will go to another city.”
Culberson strongly rebuked Poe’s attempt to remove the language, lashing into Metro’s past history and noting his constituents west of Richmond bitterly oppose the line. He said he will continue to oppose the line because it is a waste of money, and voters in 2003 never intended it to run down Richmond.
See here and here for the background. Culberson’s making the same tiresome BS arguments he’s always made, and they’re no more true or worthy of respect than before. Richmond runs east-west, so I presume those “constituents west of Richmond” are the people of Afton Oaks, who succeeded in convincing Metro to reroute the line away from them back in 2005 or so and continue to be very sore winners about it. While I appreciate Rep. Poe’s arguments and his willingness to stand up to his colleague and partymate, I disagree that this “deeply divides” the area. The division comes from a fairly small group of extremely squeaky wheels that Culberson enables, many of whom are nowhere near the route that will still hopefully someday be built. I fear that the only way to get to that point will be for Rep. Culberson to no longer represent any part of the proposed Universities Line route. That day can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, at least this doesn’t affect any current funding needs for Metro. We need to work to ensure that it never does.