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Houston proposes grade separation for METRO's East End line


City of Houston officials have concluded there is “strong sentiment” in the East End community for an underpass at Harrisburg/Hughes Street and requested the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, (METRO) support a plan to create a grade separation for light rail and vehicular traffic, METRO officials said in a prepared statement.

The decision of whether to proceed with the proposal rests with the METRO board. METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia hoped to bring the matter before the board for a vote today.

METRO’s original design for the crossing accommodated only light rail. After extensive dialog with the community, city officials commissioned a study on the feasibility of building an underpass. According to city officials, offsetting the higher cost to do so would add value to the railroad operations — the new design would ease flooding impairments, METRO officials said.

The proposed grade separation option is intended to promote pedestrian and vehicular safety in the area, and encourage community development, Houston Mayor Annise Parker said. The city has committed $20.6 million for the project.

The underpass would take as much as two years longer to build and increase costs, said METRO President and Chief Executive Officer George Greanias.

“Despite the hurdles ahead, this request is a good example of community partnerships,” he said. “We look forward to working with the city in seeing this project to completion.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/28/2011