No, no one’s expecting Metro’s 2 new light-rail lines to open any sooner than late December (as Swamplot reported last week), but some progress toward that goal is now visible on portions of the East End and Southeast lines: “Live wire” or powered testing of the downtown tracks began this week. The photo at right, sent in by a reader, shows a Metro train moving unescorted along the tracks on Capitol St. for the first time.
There’s still “some uncertainty” over the exact schedule, but all the pieces needed to allow Metro to open Houston’s second and third light-rail lines won’t be in place until late December, according to reports delivered to a committee of the transportation organization’s board of directors last Friday. Previously, an opening date sometime this fall had been projected for the Southeast and East End lines (though the far eastern end of the East End line won’t come on line until a newly planned overpass is built under over the Union Pacific East Belt freight rail line between the future Altic and Cesar Chavez stations). Delays in the delivery of trains aren’t the sole reason for the late openings, however.
For 10 years, you’ve known it as Houston’s only light-rail line, so what did it matter that we called the Main St. line? But in advance of 2 separate advance lines opening up next year, it’s got a color too: The Red Line. You can see workers installing signage with the “Red Line” designation in the photo above. When was that photo taken?
There’s been a Metro train siting at the new Quitman station of the North Line extension, just south of the train’s turnoff from North Main, reader Joel Balderas reports. Unlike earlier appearances, the train appears to be operating under its own power. Here’s the photo evidence:
The very first train graced the tracks of the North Line light rail extension earlier today — though this was only a test, says Metro’s Christof Spieler. That explains why you can’t see in this photo taken near the Burnett Transit Center north of Downtown any overhead wires — the train was being towed by a diesel tractor. (Diesel tractor not pictured.) And it explains why you can see that foam bumper: That, says Spieler, was meant to catch anything built too close to the tracks. More test train should be running all by themselves this fall, he adds, and full service is scheduled to go in December.
It’s either a store with small display cases or a home with really big curio cabinets. Fully-fenced and mostly burglar-barred, the shape-shifting property fronts the rebuilt roadway and drainage improvements of Fulton Street in Pine Grove, east of I-45. Metro’s Red Line extension plans its future Northline Transit Center just past Crosstimbers, 3 blocks north of the storefront-residence. Earlier this week, the mixed-use property reappeared in the MLS listings with a new agency and price, $99,900, after a 2-month market breather. That’s about twice the price of its sale for $45,500 in 2009 — but significantly lower than the $135,000 sought in a year-long listing that expired down a bit ($124,900) just this past September.
NEW METRO TRAINS GETTING BIKE RACKS Metro is showing off the first of 19 new California-made Siemens H2 S70 trains it’ll be adding to its light-rail fleet. The first new cars in 9 years are updated versions of the line’s original 18-member fleet, with one notable difference: Metro will be outfitting them with 2 bicycle racks each, at the front and rear doorways.Photo: Metro
Courtesy of a reader wielding a camera along Harrisburg Blvd., here’s a tour of a few standout elements you can expect to encounter in a stroll along the path of Houston’s new East End light-rail line, now that sidewalk coordination work between CenterPoint Energy, Metro, and the Greater East End Management District has been completed.
“Most of the poles,” the reader reports, “are now in the center of the sidewalk leaving 24 inches to squeeze by on either side.” Or maybe a bit more:
From a reader: this photo of the new parking conditions created by construction of the East End rail line in front of Briar Forest Dental at 5208 Harrisburg, at the corner of Edgewood, a block east of Eastwood Park.
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:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: LIGHT RAIL FOR THE PEOPLE “One very interesting upshot to delaying Uptown and University is that it heads the ‘LRT is elitist’ argument off at the pass. If you open the E, SE, and N lines without Uptown and University then you’ve just created an LRT system that predominantly serves black and hispanic neighborhoods. Possibly the first such new-start system ever built in [the US and Canada].
Opposition to the ‘white man’s train,’ whether it takes a grassroots, Los Angeles Bus Rider’s Union form, or whether it’s simply a talking point for people who will always think rail is a ‘boondoggle,’ is thus impossible. Considering that H-town will be minority-majority by the 2020 census, I think it’s kinda cool. And I’m an elitist white dude.” [KHH, commenting on Light Rail Scorecard: 6 Miles Down, 9 To Go, Culberson Blocking Goal]