Previous plans for the University Line show it running from the Wheeler Red Line station along Richmond to Cummins St., where a turn south would take the line down to Westpark Dr. before continuing out to the Hillcroft Transit Center just past 59 — connecting along the way to the also-stalledUptownrail-turned-bus-line). The Richmond part of the route includes a 1.7 mile stretch west of S. Shepherd Dr. that falls in Culberson’s district; the rest of the route to Hillcroft falls within 7th district territory as well.
This was the scene yesterday on the southeast corner of Richmond Ave and Cummins St. near Greenway Plaza, where the Redstone Companies and Hansen Partners are planning to build a new 11-story office building and 5-level parking garage with — if a Planning Dept. staff report describing the project is correct — an attached 5-story retail center. The development received planning commission approval last week for a reduced setback along the 2 streets that meets with planned but not-yet-approved standards for transit corridors; if Metro’s stalled University Line ever gets built, it’ll make its get-off-of-Richmond turn at this same corner. Accordingly, in documents submitted to the city, the developers appear to be holding out the undescribed retail portion for some later date: [Only] “the office building and related parking garage to be built on this site are nearing the time that a building permit will be required,” the variance application reads.
“Does major storm sewer work on Richmond between Kirby & Buffalo Speedway,” reader James Glassman wants to know, “mean Metro’s University Line has thrown up the white flag? Seems like all major work had been deferred until Metro broke ground there. But now this?”
HAIF poster ricco67 adds to the collection of videos showing views along the paths of the under-construction or promised light-rail routes with this mostly accurate west-to-east drive-through of the promised University Line, from Hillcroft to Eastwood. It’s a long trip, made only a little faster by the absence of any Metro construction work along the way.
What are the stations for the new Metro light-rail lines gonna look like? This full-scale mockup of a section, cobbled together from foam core, poster board, cardboard mailing tubes, and Plexiglas, now waiting way off-site in the offices of RdlR Architects provides one clue.
Did 3.2 acres of acquisitions along Post Oak Blvd. for the new Uptown Line sound like a lot to you? Then look at this: The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the new University Line says Metro’s “locally preferred alternative” route will need to acquire 23 acres of land from approximately 212 separate parcels on that route, most of it along Richmond Ave. (Only 7 of those parcels will need to be acquired in full, according to the report.) Plus: 100 businesses, 30 residences, and 38 mixed-use structures will need to be relocated.
Potential acquisitions and displacement are expected at signalized intersections and at some transit stations. Every transit station located on the street will have a traffic signal. Additional right of way will be needed to accommodate left-turn lanes at key signalized intersections.
You can find the complete list of affected properties beginning on page 146 of this document. Maps of the targeted properties along the entire route — similar to the bit along Richmond Ave. at Montrose Blvd. shown above — are in the engineering drawings section.
Find anything interesting in there? Let us know in the comments!
JOHN CULBERSON TO METRO: STOP THIS TRAIN! After poring through financial documents on the Metro website that the organization’s chairman now says are outdated, Congressman John Culberson announces his opposition to federal funding for the light-rail University Line — because he’s concluded that Metro won’t be able to afford it: “Culberson filed a formal objection with the Federal Transit Authority late Tuesday, ahead of a deadline today for members of Congress to file any concerns. Otherwise the FTA would have given Metro the nod to begin preliminary engineering work on the line. Part of the 10-mile route lies within Culberson’s congressional district. FTA spokesman Paul Griffo said the agency retains the final say. ‘It is not a process that requires explicit congressional approval or disapproval,’ Griffo said. ‘The FTA will keep Mr. Culberson’s concerns in mind, as we do the concerns of all elected officials, as projects advance through our evaluation process.’” [Houston Chronicle; more detail in the River Oaks Examiner]