Archive for July 10th, 2014

‘Stro pitcher Dallas Keuchel picked up his ninth win last night joining Jarred Cosart who also has nine wins. Who led the team in wins last season?

Today the Chron E-Board takes up the never ending underpass-overpass mess over on the East End Rail Line. I think they are a bit frustrated. First things first. METRO has the ultimate responsibility so they need to step up and provide the decisive leadership to get this done. Decisive leadership has been lacking for sure. Here is the E-Board take:

There is a certain irony to a light rail route that is lined with auto repair shops and tire stores, but that’s what you will see along Metro’s nearly completed East End line, which follows Harrisburg from downtown to the Magnolia Park Transit Center. It is a reminder that despite this mass transit investment, car is still king in Houston. With this automotive dominance, Metro and City Hall’s refusal to work together to build an overpass for this line that accommodates not only rail, but also cars and pedestrians, seems both short-sighted and spiteful.

It usually doesn’t make sense to prioritize roads in what should be a walkable, multi-modal corridor. Anyone who has tried to drive down Main Street knows that. But there are few alternatives to Harrisburg for getting through the East End neighborhood, and the busy freight rail crossing near Hughes Road has a way of shutting down traffic and commerce. That industrial rail line impedes emergency vehicles and stops kids from getting to school. We have even received letters to the editor about children crossing under stopped trains or between the train cars to get to and from school.

This intersection is wanting for grade separation, not just for the folks riding Metro, but for cars, bikes and feet as well. In fact, grade separation at this intersection has been part of the plan practically since the Harrisburg rail line was first conceived. But the challenges of building an underpass without busting the budget have been apparent for nearly as long.

Underpasses require expensive pumps to prevent flooding, and the presence of potentially dangerous chemical plumes in the soil at this site requires a pricey and time-consuming cleanup that opens the door to spreading contamination.

Despite these problems, an underpass has remained part of the conversation because it is what the community wanted, and what City Hall promised in 2010. Yet, further study has only demonstrated what City Hall and Metro already knew – an underpass is expensive and risky.

Back in February, Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia proposed a compromise overpass plan that would keep one lane of traffic in each direction at street level and carry one lane in each direction over the freight tracks, essentially creating a local street and a bypass. This plan also shortened the proposed overpass from 2,200 feet to about 1,700 feet, allowing the nearby 66th Street to remain open.

This isn’t exactly what the community desired, but it seems to mitigate some of the problems that come with an overpass. Still, without an underpass on the table, the neighborhood’s representatives at City Hall, notably Councilman Robert Gallegos, have worked to withhold $10 million that the city was supposed to contribute to the originally promised project. Without that funding, Metro has charged forward with the worst possible plan, which provides an ugly and obstructive overpass for light-rail only. We understand the rush to action. Metro’s East End line is practically ready on both sides of this freight rail divide, waiting for a connection. But Metro seems to be charging forward with little concern for the years of community conversation on the topic. Meanwhile, the neighborhood spokespeople are still clinging to an untenable underpass. This obstinacy on both sides helps no one.

Metro should wait to do this right, instead of just doing it quickly. And East End advocates need to get on board, or they’ll end up with the very thing they were trying to prevent in the first place.

It really should not have come to this but again, when it is all said and done, it is a METRO deal and they have the ultimate responsibility. It is on them. We’re not looking for players. We’re looking for leaders.

Jordan Lyles of course led the team last season with a measly seven wins.

We really can’t celebrate because we still have a lousy record but it does feel good not to be in last place in the AL West this morning. I wonder how they are feeling in Arlington.

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