Houston Metro Light Rail Expands....Damn It!

It looks like Metro is movingforward with its ambitious light rail plan. In a unanimous vote, the transit board approved a contract for four rail lines that will cost almost 1.5-billion dollars. (WHAT THE HELL????) But it will create 60-thousand jobs. (Oh and THAT'S supposed to make it ok jost how does 20 miles create 60 thousand jobs???)

The historic contract is the largest public works project ever taken in the city. The construction of the East End, North, Southeast and Uptown rail lines will add an additional 20-miles to the existing Main Street line. Metro Board Chairman David Wolff commented before vote was taken. (That's aprox $75 million per mile...it just doeem that anything would cost that much....pray tell how is this supposed to help??)

The contract with California based Parsons Transportation Group is worth 1.46 billion dollars. It will create 60-thousand jobs, mostly in construction. Wolf says there are four phases to the project. (WHAT??? It'not even a Texas company?? So we are helping California's econ?? Did this thing even go out to bid??)

"The first thing you have to do is go into a right-of-way and relocate, repair or build new utilities. The second phase is to go in and widen the roadways, so if the four lane road and you're going to take the middle two lanes for light rail, you've got to build two flanking roads on each side. The third phase is actually the construction of the rail. And then fourth, you come in and do all the finishing, the landscaping, the stations, the signage and what have you."  (Honey I promise you I can do that landscaping for less than you have it bid for! Get local companies to "adopt" the area and pay for it then put their sinage up, get schools involved and the students can take pride in their city...anything other than $75 million per mile!!!)

Now how is this for back pocket politics....Up until the vote, Metro had refused to divulge specific details, like the terms of the contract, or the final cost of the project. Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones appeared before the board.

"I think the plan is ambitious. I'm absolutely looking forward to 60-thousand jobs being created. But I think Metro needs to do a much better job with communicating with citizens, because it is taxpayer money, and citizens deserve meaningful input before any decisions or contracts are made or signed." (Thank you Jolanda!!!! Look!! Someone has a brain about it!)

Chairman Wolff: "Well, I can tell you personally that probably within the last 24-hours, we've saved 30-million dollars and I think our responsibility is for the people who are paying these dollars. I'll fight for the public and take the flak from the media." (NOTE CHAIRMAN WOLFF: If there is flak from the media it's because there is flak to be had. Trust the citizens are upset too....why don't you go ask them!!!!)

Mayor Bill White actually tried to defended the transit agency's tactic.

"There are so many details of this which has been discussed so long, including public meetings before 2003 and numerous public meetings, and during the time of the referendum, and numerous public meetings after 2003 that affect the routing of lines, and it's more a matter of some of these contractual details." (NOTE TO Mayor WHITE: It's 6 years after the fact and the econ and the city are completely different now....how about something more fiscally responsible???)

The initial phase of the contract calls for spending 632-million dollars (Hey Taxpayers...do YOU have this kind of money in your paycheck right now???)  and is expected to create 25-thousand jobs. The new light rail lines should be complete in three years. (If you work, live, eat or shop in Uptown Park...start looking for a new place NOW!)

Lori Freese