09/09/10 5:32pm

Those trains from Spain that gave the feds cause to complain yesterday are gonna delay the completion of all three light-rail lines now under construction, Metro announced today. The transit agency backed off its earlier ETA for the North, Southeast, and East End lines, saying that meeting the previously announced October 2013 completion date is no longer feasible. The problem: getting at $900 million in grant money from the Federal Transit Administration, which Metro had been expecting to arrive soon. The FTA is now requiring a promise from the transit agency to rebid the railcar contract before it’ll continue considering the application for the bulk of those funds. Sez Metro: “A delay of up to one year is anticipated.”

Drawing of future Southeast Corridor light rail line on MLK near Madalyn Ln.: Metro

09/08/10 12:14pm

FEDS TO METRO: BACK OFF THE SPANISH TRAINS AND WE’LL FUND YOUR NORTH AND SOUTHEAST LINES Calling the results of its 4-month-long investigation “both alarming and disturbing,” the Federal Transit Administration scolded Houston’s transit agency for systematically trying to bypass federal rules in the signing of 2 light-rail-vehicle contracts with a Spanish manufacturer. But the violations won’t derail funding for the light rail lines — as long as Metro’s new management team promises to rebid the contract and follow federal “Buy America” rules. A letter from FTA administrator Peter Rogoff said Houston commuters shouldn’t be punished for Metro’s violations: “The Administration still believes that the North and Southeast Corridor projects have merit and we stand behind our Fiscal Year 2011 budget request of $150 million for the two projects.” [FTA]