The Sewer and the Rail on Richmond

“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?”

Photo: James Glassman

22 Comment

  • For some reason Richmond Avenue seems to be the Bermuda Triangle of public works project schedules. Back in the early ’80s, after much planning and to bountiful boasts of great civic pride, it was transformed from a heavily potholed two lane street with a direction switching suicide lane (think West Alabama, but with pavement quality Airline would only aspire to) to a purty four lane concrete boulevard with all sorts of new trees. That was ripped up less than a year later for a monumental storm sewer project.

  • The scale of the storm sewer work needed for existing drainage problems new problems because of the rail line makes the sewer project sizable in its own right.

    There is coordination with METRO, but the city is moving forward with the installation.

  • Let’s hope it’s the white flag. The last thing Houston needs is sleek, comfortable mass transit between the Galleria and downtown.

  • This is a positive sign that Metro will be putting in the rail. Typically the City makes major improvements, finishes them, then Metro comes in and tear it all apart /rework things and put their rail in… no real coordination of effort, just a coordinated effort to spend tax dollars

  • I would hate to run a restaurant on Richmond; the stench is so bad at one popular place I lose my apatite before I hit the front door.

  • Mike, you are so right. Plus, in every city in the world, being close to a subway/rail line always lowers property values. Values go UP for every extra block a person has to walk to a station. It’s true, just ask the Afton Oaks HOA.

  • It only took 2 years to pave Kirby between 59 and Richmond. Now Kirby is paved on the west Univ side of 59. Good times.

  • Agreed Mike – the LAST thing this city needs. I say bring on more busses, cars, and build more tollroads instead of a mass transit system. One positive – our first rail expansion is from Downtown to UH – that line was so much more logical than a Downtown to Galleria line. Who would ride that line? I’ll see you all at UH Friday and Saturday night for some great shopping and dining experiences.

  • Agreed Mike – thankfully, the first rail expansion is taking us to the center of Houston – UH from Downtown. I’ll look forward to seeing everyone in that area Friday and Saturday night for some amazing shopping and dining experiences. What a great move? But, please don’t add anymore rail to the Galleria area from Houston – that would be like riding a Ghost Train – who goes to the Galleria! I’d rather walk from my house in West U to Afton Oaks any day for some hospitality and compassion for the rest of the city.

  • Jon and Mike, thank you so much for telling the truth. When I used to live in the the Boston area, where there are lots of nasty buses and trains, the property values were so low. I mean, who would want to take a train to work or to the store when you could sit in traffic, waiting for the lights to change color? Good thing Houston can see the light (through the smog).

  • Of course, light rail in Houston doesn’t really go anywhere, so I don’t take it. And why would I take rail for an hour instead of driving for 10 minutes?

  • MetroRail is a joke. Why on Earth would I want to be a slave to a train schedule when I have my own car in my garage? Why would I want to take a train that averages 12 MPH? A bike is faster. By car I can be at my destination before the rest of you even board the choo-choo.

    Houston’s light rail has zero to do with mobility all everything to do with crony politics and sleazy contractors.

    If Metro really had ANY actual intention of improving public transit Houston, the answer is Bus Rapid Transit. BRT is BETTER and FASTER than light rail and it cost ONE TENTH as much as light rail.

    For the money we’re spending in light rail we could have criss crossed the entire city with BRT. Isn’t that the whole point? Put the transit everywhere. We could have 200 miles of BRT built and paid for by now. Instead we have 7.5 miles of light rail and a bit more under construction. The original 20 mile plan will likely never be completed.

    The cost/benefit for MetroRail is joke. Perhaps the worst money Houston has ever spent after Mercado Del Sol and that Cruise terminal in the ship channel.

    Where is all the redevelopment that Metro predicted along the rail lines? The train has been running for a decade. Where is the development? Midtown was a rapidly redeveloping area prior to MetroRail. It was already happening. The train cut the neighborhood and its amazingly convenient street grid in two. Development in Midtown has slowed since the rail came in. It’s still popular and growing, but it’s doing so in spite of the light rail, not because of it. Main Street is dead.

  • The light rail was built in order to land a superbowl. Bottom line is we built it for 2 weeks of use (superbowl), and for the Rodeo(4 weeks). For the price of what it costs you could buy all the rugular riders a Ferrari.

  • i was under the impression that what killed main st. and slowed midtown was the rise of washington. but maybe you’re right… it was the light rail line.

  • It’s a class thing. Middle to upper class folks ‘commute by rail’, they certainly don’t ‘ride the bus’ like the hired help. BRT is off the table, because it has a ‘bus’ in it. And anyway, no city can be taken seriously unless has a choo-choo (even if it is a cheap-sounding, pre-recorded one). Why else was Metro so keen to put in a train, any train, just before the Super Bowl in ’04? To impress the visitors. They must have thought it pathetic.

  • Moving utilities is explicitly part of light rail construction:

  • Here we go again. METRO and its connected contractors tearing up the streets and creating more traffic jams. The COH will NEVER co-ordinate anything with any other entity.

  • If you lived or worked in Midtown, Downtown, or the TMC, you’d realize that the main benefit of the rail is to avoid the awful parking situation. Sure, you can get in your car and be somewhere quickly, but good luck parking anywhere worth going.

  • In addition, anywhere living or working in Midtown, Downtown or the TMC (like myself) knows you can’t drive anywhere down Fannin or Main faster than the Metrorail. The train may slow down or temporarily stop at lights but it then goes through them. For the record, I actually live in a suburb and take the Park n Ride to downtown and commute to the TMC by rail. I love it! I think some people like to bash the city, no matter what, just because a particular preference doesn’t work for their lifestyle. If you actually rode the rail, you would realize that it’s more crowded than you probably suspected.

  • For the record the work on Richmond is not being done in support of Metros Richmond line. As of yesterday June 19th, thanks to John Culberson, the Richmond and Post oak segments will not be funded by the government.
    Unless something happens magically and this is over ruled Richmond will remain a pothole laden street for cars trucks and buses.
    For all of the naysayers who are against having a connecting inner city transit system it just shows your ignorance. With the levels of density growing exponentially every year inside the loop over the next twenty years the street grid will be overburdened and we will have major gridlock issues.
    Bernard you are so wrong and obviously you can’t see the parking lot for the cars, but to question your statement about Midtown and the clubs downtown. I worked in the industry for 17 years and the bar scene is fickle and is always on the move, i.e. Richmond in the 90’s, Shepherd plaza in the late 90’s early downtown in the late 90’s early 2000’s back to the galleria area for a short time in the mid 2000’s and now Midtown and Washington Ave.
    It comes and goes. Midtown is not slumping either. You need to do your homework before you make such bold comments. You might be able to beat the rail right now but in ten years with traffic grid lock I’ll take the train and beat you every time. A little vision never hurts and it sure makes a lot of sense getting the infrastructure in now rather than later.

  • I agree, I’m amazed at how ignorant people can be. To me this shows very little support for a city that needs the infrastrucutre to maintain its postion as a global leader. Hell, if I can save gas not having to wait 45 minutes in traffic and simply park and ride the rail, I’ll do that every day. How can you not support a mass transit system to help take cars off the road? It’s simple logic, the rail line carries 40,000 passenegers daily, how many cars are taken off the road because of the rail? You can’t expect Houston to just build more highways for the masses that are expected to arrive in the next 20 years. That’s why so many developers are building mixed use development across the city to promote transit usage, which is good for business, which takes cars off the streets, and builds a more pedestrian friendly city.

  • Taking the Houston rail is like stepping into a ghetto. Think New York subways in the 70’s and 80’s… homeless people with no place to go but the cool comfort of the subway. The Houston rail can’t afford the personnel need to properly control access to the cars. It’s easy to get on without a ticket because there is no one there to check for it. Try riding the rail. You’ll see that bums are hanging out at almost every stop, especially downtown. They ride the rail and nobody bothers to check them for a ticket. You would have to be one dedicated sustainable lifestyle fool, poor, or just a bum to ride Houston metro/rail. The one thing Houston has, more than any city in the U.S.A., is space. Build big parking lots and freeways, buy sustainable hybrids, scooters (or not) and drive yourself to work like any other self respecting redneck. The rail is not a solution for those who live in outlying municipalities. They live there precisely because they don’t want to brush shoulders with the homeless or low incomers. They are not interested riding along side some stinky guy asking for change. It is not a solution for those living inside the loop to get efficiently delivered safely to your destination. It is a boondoggle for METRO upper management who has long adversarial history with the city. If you live inside the loop and are a pro-rail-on-richmond advocate, you are delusional. No insider wants this, or cares about the traffic, or where you have to park. It better to walk, bike, scoot, or crawl to where you are going. Take the rail to see how the other half lives.