05/20/16 1:30pm

Proposed University Light-Rail Line

A letter from the Federal Transit Authority released this morning by the office of long-time light-rail derailer US representative John Culberson announces that the comatose plans for rail construction along Richmond Ave. have now lost eligibility for federal funding due to the project’s lack of major progress, reports Dug Begley for the Houston Chronicle.

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-stalled Uptown rail-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.


Use It Or Lose It
12/11/13 10:30am

Demolition Work at Richmond Ave and Cummins St., Greenway Plaza, Houston

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.


5-Story Retail?
09/07/12 9:30pm

A SPECIAL KIND OF LIMBO FOR METRO’S UNIVERSITY LINE Have plans for a light-rail line along Westpark and Richmond from Hillcroft to Eastwood been dealt a deathblow? In a story aired this evening, Ted Oberg claims Metro “recently took that project off the table” — and that “nothing will be built until at least 2025 if Metro gets its way.” But transit agency spokesperson Jerome Gray says the patient is still alive: “The Metro Board has not scrapped plans for the University Line,” he tells Swamplot. “While work has slowed down Metro has not pulled this project out of its rail expansion program. . . . Metro will proceed with rail expansion as funds become available.” [abc13] Map: Metro

07/02/12 5:07pm

LIGHT RAIL SCORECARD: 6 MILES DOWN, 9 TO GO, CULBERSON BLOCKING GOAL Metro says it’s now laid 6 miles of track for the 3 light-rail lines its working on — the new East End and Southeast Lines and the North Line extension. And construction is now under way on 10 of 24 new stations. All is on track for a 2014 opening date, including $200 million of federal funds for 2 of those lines, approved by a vote in the House of Representatives last Friday. Also approved within the same bill, though: Congressman John Culberson’s ban on federal funding for both the Uptown Line and the long-delayed University Line. A House-Senate conference committee will determine if the funding block remains in the bill’s final version. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Metro

06/18/12 10:28am

“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

08/02/11 3:30pm

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.

Video: ricco67

07/29/10 7:52pm

A LITTLE ENCOURAGEMENT FOR HOUSTON’S LIGHT-RAIL STRAGGLER Metro’s University Line has passed its final environmental review, the transit agency announced today. “The approval in the form of a federal Record of Decision allows Metro to go forward with utility coordination, design and pre-construction planning along the 11.3-mile route, some of which will run along Richmond Avenue from roughly Main to Cummins streets.” [River Oaks Examiner]

03/10/10 9:56pm

MAYOR PARKER: MAYBE WE CAN’T BUILD THE UNIVERSITY OR UPTOWN LIGHT RAIL LINES Suddenly, 2 of Metro’s 5 planned new light-rail lines are looking a lot less inevitable: “Parker said members of her transition team have ‘drilled down’ into Metro’s finances and she now feels comfortable only with the funding plans of three rail lines: the East End, North and Southeast. Construction on those lines is under way. Parker’s goal is to make sure those three lines are built “very, very rapidly,” she said. The other two, the Uptown and University lines, ‘are lines that I want to see built, but until we can finalize all the numbers, and some of them are still moving, I’m not going to commit to whether that is possible.’” [Houston Chronicle]

02/22/10 1:04pm

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.

And here are a few more:


01/22/10 1:03pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: MAKES IT EASIER TO CRUSH THOSE COMMUNARDS, TOO “Parisian city planners were met with similar narrow-minded criticism when they decided to construct grand boulevards in medieval Paris. The result was the Champs-Elysees and other notable conduits. The visionaries at METRO must ignore similar insuferable fools and carry on the worthy goal of bringing automobile independent mass transportation to Houston. The University line is the lynch pin of the ongoing expansion and these plans should be approved with all deliberate speed.” [Landed Gent, commenting on Metro’s University Line Acquisition Line-Up: What Stays and What Goes Along Richmond Ave.]

01/21/10 4:28pm

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!

Map: Metro Solutions (PDF)

12/10/09 9:20am

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]