FEDERAL MONEY ROLLS IN FOR UPTOWN’S POST OAK BRT One of the last few items on Uptown’s to-do list was crossed off Friday: The Houston-Galveston Area Council voted to allocate about $62 million in federal scratch to help pay for the construction of bus rapid transit along Post Oak Blvd. This money, along with continued revenue from Uptown’s recently enlarged tax zone, will fund the estimated $177 million project that, like light rail, will run 60-ft. buses in dedicated lanes between 2 transit centers. Uptown Management prez John Breeding tells the Highwayman that construction could begin as early as 2015. But one notable dissenter, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, doesn’t seem convinced this whole public-transportation thing is gonna work out: “I am afraid we are going to look up in 10 years and say ‘What did we do that for?’ I think I know Houstonians enough to know they are going to want to drive.” [The Highwayman; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Uptown Management District
POST OAK BRT THAT MUCH CLOSER TO GETTING ITS MONEY After a month’s delay to take a longer look at the project, the transportation arm of the Houston-Galveston Area Council finally decided to go ahead and recommend that Uptown receive $62 million in federal funds to pay for the proposed Post Oak Blvd. bus rapid transit system. This is just a provisional step, of course, since 2 actual approvals, not mere recommendations, are needed — but it does move things along. Through tax revenue, Uptown is already paying for about half the estimated $148 million project. The Houston Chronicle’s Dug Begley is reporting that this federal money would help buy up $30 million of land so Post Oak could be widened for the bus lanes. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Drawing: Uptown Management District
METRO’S NEW TRIP-PLANNING APP You can now download T.R.I.P., a trip-planning app that’s all Metro’s own. The Write on Metro blog first mentioned the app in October 2011, reporting that a launch was expected later that winter. Of course, that delay isn’t mentioned in today’s press release announcing that the Transit Route Information and Planning app, a screenshot of which is shown here, is up and running, ready to provide schedule and route information based on the user’s location, predict “to within 3 minutes” arrivals of the next bus or train, and generate routes. And it’s free. [Write on Metro; Ride Metro]
The driving force of a project that Uptown Houston District has proposed to the city to transform Post Oak Blvd.? Big beautiful buses. With both residential and commercial developments like Skanska’s 20-story office building popping up along the major transit corridor and METRO’s Uptown/Gold Line nowhere in sight, the District has developed a $177-million project featuring light rail-like BRT to update Post Oak — a street “that has long outlived its original use,” says John Breeding, the District’s president.
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“This must have been quite a fearsome impact,” reports ever-vigilant blogger Slampo, who files these photos of what had until the wee hours of Wednesday morning been the No. 4 inbound bus shelter on Beechnut just east of Hillcroft, directly in front of the Foodarama parking lot. “There’s one of those concrete-lined garbage containers somewhere in there under the former shelter’s roof.” These photos were taken a few hours later.
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CROSSING THAT THIN BABY BLUE LINE Two Bellaire City Council members are upset about a very long, baby blue line Metro painted along Bellaire Blvd. last month: “‘We work hard in Bellaire to improve the look of our community, the planning commission is working hard on a comprehensive plan, and then some outside entity decides to paint a stripe down our street, and I don’t like it,’ said Councilmember Peggy Faulk at Monday night’s council meeting. ‘We are continually plagued by visual pollution,’ said Councilmember Pat McLaughlan, who also challenged signs posted at-will by government jurisdictions through Bellaire. Metro painted the blue line along the entire route of its Quickline Signature express service, which offers high-tech hybrid buses at peak hours down Bellaire/Holcombe Boulevard from west Houston to the Texas Medical Center.” [Bellaire Examiner]