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Spartan

Houston Rail Developments

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Here are some links to previous discussions on Houston's efforts to build an LRT:

Houston: Metro rail still a dividing line, Development along the route?

Trains finally roll in Houston rail system

Long road to rail in Houston will finally end

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The newest update is this:

"The Federal Transit Administration's notice of intent to approve preliminary engineering next month for the Main Street light rail extension to Northline Mall and a new line to the southeast side clears a major hurdle for the Metropolitan Transit Authority's efforts to obtain half the projects' costs from Washington."

Thats funding for TWO extensions to to Houston's LRT. However, "Houston still has numerous steps toward obtaining the $390 million it needs for the 50 percent federal match on the Northline and Southeast sections."

"Houston will be competing with at least 25 other cities that also have projects in preliminary engineering this year. The FTA has recommended Congress appropriate $122 million for all of these projects in the next fiscal year. If Metro only gets an average allocation, it can expect $5 million from Uncle Sam next year."

So its some good news, and some bad. Here is the full story from the Houston Chronicle

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A new transit plan for Houston was released this week that would subsitute planned light rail lines with Bus Rapid Transit. The BRT would run for 40 miles on its own dedicated guideways in the North, South, Harrisburg, and Uptown corridors. Rails would be laid and covered in asphalt so it could be converted to light rail when the ridership numbers justify it.

The existing MetroRail line would be extended north to a site near Burnett. There it would connect to a 20-mile long commuter rail line that would run along the Northwest Freeway to Barker-Cypress.

There is also another commuter rail line planned to Missouri City.

The plan is expected to cost $2 billion with half coming from the FTA and the other being matched by Metro. They hope to get $400 million from the current federal funding cycle and $600 million in the next cycle.

Story at http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3224120

Below is a link to another Houston Chronicle story comparing what Houston's possible BRT system could be like to the existing Las Vegas MAX system.

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/topstory/3231107

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Wow, $400 million is going to be very wishful thinking. They really need a source of local funding for the line that exceeds this for it to even be considered. Maybe they didn't realize their former governer and his family are very anti-transit.

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It seems sort of ridiculous to construct something, purchase specialized vehicles to run on it, and then cover it up with the eventual expectation of closing and ripping it up again and purchasing different specialized vehicles.

It just seems a little counter-intuitive.

I'm not saying that they should go the San Diego route and built a massive system all at once, but there surely has to be a better way of doing this.

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The Metropolitan Transit Authority will recieve $12 million from a Transportation Department spending bill that was passed by the House and Senate on Friday.

The money will help pay for preliminary engineering on Metro's planned North and Southeast lines, which will connect to the present Main Street line. The agency plans to initially use buses running on their own guideways in the two corridors, then convert to light rail after ridership increases.

Metro also recieved $2 million for bus system improvements.

Houston Chronicle: Congress OKs $12 million for Metro, other projects

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Metro has begun negotiations with Washington Group International on four planned BRT lines. But, two local members of congress hope to secure federal money to build light rail on the corridors instead.

Metro said last year it would build the lines with rail in the ground and operate buses in their own right-of-way

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Two Metro Transit lines are recommended to recieve funding in President Bushs' latest budget proposal. The proposal calls for $72 million to go to six projects across the nation with including two in Houston, the North and Southeast lines.

The North line would extend the existing Main Street light rail half a mile north of the University of Houston-Downtown, then run bus rapid transit

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