Monday, October 01, 2018
Past Time For METRO To Build Rail To Hobby and IAH
The state of Virginia right now is busy expanding the Silver Line subway from its current western terminus at the Wiehle-Reston East station to Dulles airport and beyond it.
I happily discovered when I attended #NN16 in St Louis that it has rail service from the airport to downtown. That line crosses the Mississippi River to East St Louis, IL
While as a proud Houstonian I hate to admit that Dallas is better than Houston in anything, one area I must give Dallas props for is their over 100 miles of DART light rail that covers much of the city.
terminates at DFW's Terminal A, and is part of the largest light rail system in Texas. The DART system also includes commuter rail lines to Denton and Ft Worth
DART is now currently planning a subway through downtown Dallas to eliminate the system bottleneck that has all four lines converging and traveling through downtown on dual tracks along Pacific Avenue. It's also planning the suburban Cotton Belt line which would connect Richardson, north Dallas and Addison to DFW Airport and the other existing light rail lines. There's also the TexRail project under construction that will connect Fort Worth to DFW's Terminal B, the existing TRE commuter line and the DART Cotton Belt Line.
But back to focusing on my end of I-45. So why doesn't my hometown have rail to Hobby and Intercontinental airports despite METRO being founded in 1978 with the goal of city wide rail service in mind?
You also have all the naysaying anti-rail peeps who think building or widening freeways is cheaper than rail, nobody will ride it, and building roads is the only option capable of solving our Houston area regional transit issues.
But back to Culberson. At the behest of his Afton Oaks constituents and his party, he has repeatedly messed with METRO's plan to build the needed and necessary east west University (Blue) Line to connect the rest of the current system centered on downtown, the Texas Medical Center and the north east southeast sides of the city to the Galleria area and the Gold Line by messing with the federal funding.
Federal funding that the DFW area said 'thank you very much Houston' for allowing us to get it to build our rail system.
The BRT lane currently being built along South Post Oak Blvd and the West Loop to its northern terminus at the Northwest Transit Center could be eventually extended to the future Houston terminus of the Texas Central Railway bullet train between Dallas and Houston scheduled to start construction next year.
Their collective opposition to rail is so entrenched that Culberson is even bragging about in his campaign materials. That Republican opposition to METRO getting its fair share of federal money to build rail here is a major reason why the Dallas Fort Worth area has quickly amassed over 100 miles of it and is building more while we spin our wheels dealing with nuisance litigation from anti-rail opponents.
And as you probably guessed, travel times on the Katy Freeway have gotten worse, not better since it was expanded. Since METRO paid for some of that project, one silver lining of it is the overpasses were built to handle the weight of rail cars if we finally go in that direction we should have and stick rail tracks in the middle of the freeway.
Looks like METRO is finally getting ready to address that issue, and it's about time.
The distance from IAH to the current northern terminus of the Red Line at the Northline/HCC station is 11.5 miles, about the length of track that was built to expand the Red Line from the UH Downtown station to that point.
While I'd like both projects to happen ASAFP, how fast that does occur depends on the upcoming 2018 midterm election in which Lizzie Fletcher is taking on Culberson.
In the wake of the failure to get Amazon's second HQ to locate here, and if Houston ever wants to see its Olympic hosting dreams come true, the incentive is there for Houston to handle its rail public transportation business.
And it needs to happen as quickly as possible.