11/30/17 1:00pm

WAS IT A GOOD IDEA TO DERAIL I-10? Earlier this week Harris County Judge Ed Emmett appeared to pass judgment on one aspect of the Katy Fwy. widening completed almost a decade ago: “We cannot go back in time and undo some poor decisions, but we can learn from those decisions. One of the most glaring mistakes was the failure to convert the abandoned Katy rail line to commuter rail. Think about it, we had a straight shot from Katy all the way into Downtown.” But ripping up the tracks did not render a future rail line along the path of I-10 completely impossible, notes Dug Begley: “Though the rail line was removed, Metropolitan Transit Authority paid for overpasses along I-10 to be built to rail standards, meaning that if the region ever wanted to use the freeway for light rail, that is possible. Larger, commuter, trains, however would not be able to operate in the freeway.” [Houston Chronicle] Photo: cemaxx (license)

06/07/12 6:46pm

A public meeting at the Together We Stand Christian Church tonight is the third of 4 Metro has scheduled to discuss the possible route of a new 9-mile light-rail leg connecting Missouri City to the southernmost stop on the existing light-rail line, roughly paralleling US Route 90A. Metro isn’t anticipating construction of the extension before 2017, but there are a couple of kinks to consider: The main difference between the 2 route alternatives being considered is the northeast end of the journey. The first alternative (above) jogs off 90A to follow Bellfort into the existing Fannin South rail station, while the second (below) takes the Holmes Rd. route in:


03/19/10 10:51am

EXTENDING METRO’S MAIN ST. RAIL LINE TO FORT BEND COUNTY Metro’s lame-duck board gave its staff a half-million-dollar go-ahead yesterday to figure alignments, hold public meetings, and begin environmental studies on an 8.2-mile commuter rail line along U.S. 90A. The hunt for federal funding comes next: “It was the second development this month in efforts to bring commuter rail to the Houston region. The Gulf Coast Rail District recently hired a Houston engineering firm to study a line along U.S. 290 to Hempstead. A key advantage of Metro’s [Fort Bend] plan, [Chairman David] Wolff said, is that it would use trains Metro already owns on tracks that would parallel Union Pacific freight tracks in the same corridor, tying into the existing Main Street light rail line to create a seamless experience for passengers. The commuter line would begin at Fannin South, the southern end of the Main Street line, and continue to the Fort Bend County Line at Beltway 8.” [Houston Chronicle]

09/02/09 5:05pm

THE PATH OF COMMUTER RAIL Which area freight rail routes might share their tracks with commuter rail lines? Probably not the Union Pacific line along U.S. 90A to Sugar Land. “But two other freight lines have less traffic, and Union Pacific is working with government planners to free them up for commuter trains. One runs out the U.S. 290 corridor and one runs along Texas 3 to Galveston. TxDOT is considering granting $2 million in stimulus funds for two engineering studies on those routes. ‘My goal is to have trains running in three years,’ said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. The engineering studies will design routes that bring suburban commuters to the 610 Loop, but no farther. The freight traffic inside the Loop is still too busy, and although there is an abandoned rail line, it runs right through the Heights — a politically vocal neighborhood. ‘That’s not something I want to take on,’ said Emmett. The compromise is to build some commuter lines now, connect them to light rail or bus lines, and figure out later how to get them inside the Loop, to downtown.” [Houston Chronicle]

08/03/09 12:04pm

WHERE COMMUTER RAIL MIGHT COME FROM “We may have commuter rail to Galveston and Hempstead as early as 2012,” declares rail watcher Christof Spieler. So who’s gonna make it happen? How about . . . the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District? “The GCFRD just advertised for and received qualifications for firms to do $2 million in engineering studies, to be completed by June 2010, for 90 mph commuter rail lines sharing freight rail tracks along 290 from Hempstead to just inside 610 and from Galveston to just inside 610. This spring, the Texas Legislature expanded GCFRD’s mission to include intercity passenger rail; despite its name, the district has already been empowered to build commuter rail. Waller and Galveston counties are now joining the GCFRD, making the district the only entity short of TxDOT that covers both of those lines.” [Intermodality]