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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Houston Metro passes latest — and last? — light rail hurdle


Although this November’s election didn’t have the national impact that last year’s did, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas — and those opposed to transit — watched Houston’s Nov. 6 election results closely. And Houston Metro supporters woke up happy the next morning.

Strong light-rail debate delayed the start of construction early this year and has continued, even while construction progresses. In the battle’s latest round, Propositions 1 and 3 were added to the ballot.

Proposition 1 — which passed with 72 percent of the vote — requires voters to approve any future light-rail project. Metro had planned to take this step anyway with line extensions, and the proposition wouldn’t have affected the 7.5-mile starter line currently being built on Main Street.

Proposition 3 — whch failed by a 54-50 vote — would have required a vote to authorize any rail construction. Passage would have required Metro to cease work on the Main Street Line until an election could be held. If residents in such an election voted against the starter line, Metro would have had to tear out all work already completed and return the street to its pre-construction status.

"Which is ludicrous," says Shirley DeLibero, Houston Metro president and chief executive officer. "Luckily, that didn’t pass."

"[The election results indicate] to us that people want us to build the 7.5-mile system," she says. "And clearly, they want us to bring it back to them when we do a system plan for any other extensions we might have."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/9/2001