Clearing out the March tidbits
We're engaged in a bit of spring cleaning, which means tossing out old links and stories that never managed to get full-blown posts.
I couldn't just trash a couple of transit-related March items, though, so here they are:
First, there's Rad Sallee's interview with Mayor White on mobility issues. This exchange was a little surprising:
Q: What was your first mobility initiative?
A: We started retiming the north-south streets in Midtown in January right after I took office. By the end of 2005 we had retimed over 2,000 of 2,400 intersections. Now we're going back and doing it again.
Q: I still get a good many complaints about stoplight timing.
A: We want to know about complaints. I have one myself. I support the Main Street rail line but it's wreaked havoc on some of our signal timing. Also, when there's construction or a change in traffic flow, we need to make sure we go back and retime the signals.
The Main Street rail line has indeed wreaked havoc on signal timing, and (as a result) vehicular traffic flow in that corridor. Sensible people understand the folly of laying light rail lines down busy vehicular traffic corridors, but Houston's light-rail-at-any-cost crowd is not always sensible. Unfortunately, the Mayor's "complaint" doesn't have much teeth, as he seems disinclined to discourage METRO from laying even more light rail down busy streets, some of which have much more heavily trafficked intersections than the Main Street corridor (like Richmond/Kirby).
Houston is now negotiating with a "facility provider" who will, at a minimum, design and build four corridors of guided, bus rapid transit and an intermodal terminal. The agency has selected Houston Transit Partners, a consortium lead by Washington Group International, from three proposals to handle the project. The agency wants the 20 miles of guideways, including stations, to be completed by late 2010 with operational vehicles in place by 2011. Houston Metro hopes to begin construction later this year.
"Our skills lie in providing comprehensive transportation services," Wilson told Congress, "but we are ill-equipped to tackle the large and exceptionally complex system expansion programs needed to meet our future goals. We have neither the skills nor the resources required to execute complicated designs and construction projects that routinely range in the hundreds of millions."
We do not always agree with Mr. Wilson, but we aren't going to argue with that admission!