Driving Tour Progress Reports: How Far All That Light Rail Construction Has Come

How far along is construction on the 3 rail lines Metro is building? A little more than a year ago, HAIF user ricco67 took a video camera along on drives following the paths of each soon-to-be rail route, and posted the results. With the completion of a video taken alongside the East End Line construction from Downtown to the Magnolia Transit Center posted yesterday (above), you can now spot-check progress in updated tours of each of them.

Ricco67’s update showing construction on the Southeast Line dates from last month:


And this North Line extension tour shows how all those orange construction barrels looked as of late June:

Videos: ricco67

24 Comment

  • Two light rail lines crossing downtown will lead to the demise of downtown mobility.

    I lived in Midtown 10 years, and have worked downtown for 15 – and this is the worst it has even been.

    And the future is dark.

  • I so would have run that yellow light.

  • How is it that other countries can build entire new (high speed) rail lines and we can’t even get a couple of light rail lines constructed?

    @Craig: do you mean car travel? Part of the reason to put in rail lines is to reduce the reliance on automobiles. Works pretty well in a lot of other places.

  • These are really cool

  • @Sara, you cannot believe the amount of work it is taking to do this. I was skeptical too, but since being involved on the engineering side of this project (lighting), I can attest to the monumental task it is to drop a modern rail system into an existing infrastructure.

  • Why would we ever need high speed rail like other countries? We have cars and cheap gas, they would kill for the same convenience.

    Picture a trip to San Antonio in a car… I put my bags in my car in my garage, 2.5 hours later I’m in San Antonio and walking into ANY hotel in town and still have my car to go all over town for fun, business, or whatever.
    Picture the same trip on a train… Someone has to drop me off to a train terminal (at a specific time, not anytime I want to leave), lug my bags all over the place, be dropped off at another terminal, take a cab or bus to my hotel, be stuck in one area unless I rent a car or decipher another city’s bus system.

    Oh yeah, I call that progress!!!

    It cost me less to drive and still have my full freedom of movement.

  • So American we want everything instantly even dropping a train in where it doesn’t in convenient anyone, the coordination like the previous comments said is astounding! and the society now that everyone still wants their own car an lane this is hard to over come. It will be finished when people finish thinking the same but want different results. And who film this are they helping film from a car,scooter, bicycle,walking or ever going use the train?

  • Thanks @Northsider. I know I fall victim to *thinking* that things should be easier than they are.

  • @commonsense


    In 2005, CO2 emissions were 7,147.2 million metric tons in the United States. 1,958.6 metric tons of that was from transportation. In just our transportation industry, CO2 emissions in the United states managed to surpass every single countries TOTAL CO2 emissions with the exception of China’s.

    I could go on from the health affects of a society in a car oriented city, or how city planning in the long is detrimental to communities, walkability etc etc.., or entanglements in middle east conflicts to secure energy supplies but that is a much longer post than warranted here.

    Giving the option of mass transit rail is most certainly a progressive project long term especially while concurrently allowing for automobile use. In addition, trends in inflation adjusted gasoline prices show that they are their highest since 1915’s


  • Sure – I’d take a train to work – the thing is these trains exist where we already had public transportation options.

    How about some options where none exist?

    These trains are fancy buses.

    Putting rail around Loop 610 with Super Buses connecting into the city center made much more sense than the mess we are getting.

  • Oh for crying out loud. Neighborhoods inside the loop are becoming more densely populated (the “Tower of Traffic” for example). People who live in Midtown, eastside, third ward, and eventually Montrose will be able to walk a short distance to the train and reach their destination without a car. People who insist on living far away in a big, cheap house can enjoy spending more of their time commuting, or they can decide to try living nearer the train or workplace.
    Updating and modernizing this city make take 50 years, but light rail is a step in the right direction.

  • Purdue, change does not happen (in normal times) unless an alternative is better or cheaper. Train is neither of those.

    Having said that, the CO2 problem will be solved by transitioning to electric cars (Tesla has 300 mile range and 30 minute charge already) and when Base Power Plants are switched from Coal to fusion or at least regular fission. This problem will solve itself by natural economic processes withing the next couple of decades.
    I am in shape and no, I don’t want to walk to bus stop, no I don’t want to carry my groceries several blocks, no I don’t want to waste my precious time traveling by mass transport while that time could be used more productively.

  • I love travelling to Europe because I do not have to have a car. I can take the train from the airport to the city center and then hop on a subway/trolley/bus to where I am staying. Cities like London, Paris, Berlin and Rome all have great public transportation and fast trains that go to all the great little towns across the countryside. No traffic. No paying exhorbitant sums for parking, much less actually trying to find parking.

    Sure, in Houston, driving is cheap–for now. Pay lots are springing up on Washington Ave and even in the newly hopping White Oak Ave. Downtown lots are charging $10+ for special event parking nights and weekends. More and more neighborhoods are getting resident only street parking. Good luck finding non-valet parking along Westheimer in Montrose on Friday or Saturday night. And I dare you to try to park a car at Hermann park on a nice Saturday or Sunday after 11:00 am. Light rail may seem like more trouble than it is worth today, but cars will eventually be more trouble than they are worth in the future if we have a decent public transit infrastructure.

  • @Sara, the rail system envisaged by Metro and it’s mewling pack of sycophants does nothing to help me on any of the trips I regularly take from the Greater Heights area. The actual and proposed system does manage to interrupt many of the regular trips I take. So, rail is utterly useless, in my opinion.

    @Old School, rail and underground travel in London is expensive. A round trip ticket from the town in Surrey where I lived as a teen to London is $27 for 20 miles each way. You can save with a weekly or monthly pass, but it’s still not cheap. A single trip on the tube is almost $7, weekly pass is $54.

  • I love traveling in Europe as well, but I always hire a driver and car because I can’t stand inner city public transport. I can’t afford to lose several hours a day chasing buses and making multiple transfers.

    Everyone that I talked to that lives there would kill for a car if they could afford one.

    One day cars may become too expensive to own but I don’t see that happening in Houston in my lifetime.

  • Bring it on. the more rail the better. we should have done this a couple of decades ago. oil is expensive. we ship hundreds of billions of dollars to places like saudi arabia. global warming is real and is already degrading our environment. the current rail line is heavily used. a home run concept.

  • commonsense,

    I respect your opinion on high speed rail (unrelated to this story but whatever lol) but I’d say that many people disagree with you. Many think that the convenience of letting one do the driving, getting there faster than a car would, and being able to comfortable walk around is superior than driving in a car.

  • truth time, we have the money to build the entire light rail now…….get over these stupid budget talks when it comes to public projects, restore downtown……if we believe NBA, MLB and NFL make money why can’t we just build nice schools, fix the streets, put the power lines underground, restore light rail trolley lines and landscape public areas……nothing makes money, it is all relative, we make life worth living by building beautiful lives for everyone……..so get over yourself and build something beautiful that is well planned and relates well to adjoining lots…..WWJD, well he would laugh at your savings account and remind you of faith

  • Greg,

    You do realize that the train still contributes to pollution right? I believe you are just opting for coal instead of gasoline. The coal is burned at the Parish electric plant outside of Greatwood.

  • commonsense,

    I think the idea is when you build high-speed rail, it will force the cities to build either light rail or other good connections at the HSR terminal so that a good travel experience can be attained. Not to mention it will encourage light-rail connections and dense development similar to what light-rail itself encourages. So yes, maybe if you live in Katy, you are still going to drive to San Antonio, but if you live in Midtown and can hop downtown to a train going 120 mph maybe that will be your best bet.

    The fact that you hire a driver in Europe and can’t stand inner-city transportation is curious to me. Madrid, Paris, London, etc. have some of the best systems in the world – are you referring to cities like that? You really don’t need a car most of the time in most places in these cities – and you don’t necessarily have to deal with too many bus transfers either since these systems have pretty outstanding rail components. Other European cities, I would agree – have kind of crappy transit options – for instance Rome is not so great.

  • I am a homeowner downtown between Capitol and Rusk on Main (the location of the future Main Street Transfer Station) with rail in front of my home and in the future on both side streets. I am excited about the change. Yes, it is difficult and my little sports car is a little pounded from the broken streets but in the long run it will be a positive transformation.

  • Mike:
    I can only assume you’ve never actually had the misfortune of riding in a London tube or Paris Metro during rush hour. This is not a pleasant experience. (Can’t speak to Madrid.)
    Public transportation thrives in these cities not due to an excess of environmental consciousness on the part of riders. It succeeds because having/driving/parking a car is prohibitively expensive/inconvenient/time-consuming. I’ve never known a Londoner to take a tube or bus when a taxi is an option (and someone else is paying).
    Light rail to certain destinations to downtown makes sense along similar lines, but virtually every Houstonian WILL STILL OWN A CAR, even if they take the train to work every day. Life in the city demands it. Mostly people like light rail in the hopes that OTHER PEOPLE will use it, and leave the roads less congested for the rest of us.

  • Angostura,

    Sure I rode rail during rush hour in Madrid, Paris, London, NYC, and other cities. Yes I would not necessarily call it pleasant, but neither is sitting on 610 for 30 minutes going 5 mph past the Galleria, or worse.

    You say ” I’ve never known a Londoner to take a tube or bus when a taxi is an option (and someone else is paying).” Sure – that makes sense, but that’s a ridiculous presumption – maybe that makes sense for business travelers but so what. What about when they are offered a free Ferrari by one of the Rich Kids of Instagram – do they asccept that as well? I would imagine so.

    Your assertion that most people in Houston will still own a car once light rail system is built out is also true, but even if we are getting people to use cars slightly less, or allowing a family to get by on 1 car instead of 2, or 2 cars instead of 3, etc…, then I think it is a worthwhile pursuit. You also have to look at where the system is built out – obviously this is going to not really help someone living in Kingwood. But someone living downtown or going to school at UH may benefit from having more transit options.

    If you had commuter rail from Sugar Land to the Medical Center and into downtown, for instance, I think you’d get a pretty good percentage of those commuters to switch to take the train.

  • Everything takes so long in this city to build. I moved here 7 years ago and Kirby was under construction and just finished this year. It’s not like we don’t have cheap labor here. In Dubai they built a the worlds tallest building in 4 years, implemented a metro Rail (above ground) in the same time frame. Dubai’s cheap labor just came from a different country, then our cheap labor.

    Why isn’t the light rail in houston above ground? If it were, then traffic lanes wouldn’t have to be taken, and the train would be faster since it wouldn’t have to stop at intersections. This of course is only feasible on big roads like, westheimer, holcomb, kirby, allen parkway. In neighborhoods there could be connecting street cars (or our current light rail)