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Volume 70, Issue 147, Thursday, June 16, 2005


UH still tied to rail

New proposal for expansion of MetroRail may soften opposition

Cougar News Services

A new Houston-area transit plan introduced Monday will add eight miles of MetroRail, connecting UH to the Uptown-Galleria area.

This new $2 billion plan was drafted in an attempt to soften U.S. Reps. Tom DeLay and John Culberson's opposition to federally-funded rail projects proposed in 2003.

The new draft calls for 28 miles of bus rapid transit -- traditional buses traveling on a rail-like roadbed -- along the Northwest Freeway and U.S. Highway 90 through Missouri City. It would extend the current MetroRail to UH-Downtown and add a new MetroRail roughly parallel to Wheeler Avenue and Richmond Avenue that will stop at UH.

A previous rail plan proposed a route on Scott Street to transport students from UH and Texas Southern University.

The new plan received support from DeLay and Culberson, mainly because of the bus rapid transit that will aid commuters, the Houston Chronicle reported. The representatives are now committed to getting Metro the $1 billion in federal funds necessary to complete the plan in 2012.

The other $1 billion would come from local revenue.

"(The) commitment to seek significant new federal funding and legislative actions create a historic opportunity to significantly improve mobility and travel choices for our citizens," Metro Chairman David S. Wolff said in a release.

Only $9 billion in federal funding is available for transit in the current cycle with $50 billion in proposed projects competing. Metro hopes to get $400 million in the current cycle and $600 million in the next cycle, the Chronicle reported.

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