Metro Gets the Light-Rail Federal Funding It Craved
Let the latest phase of trough-feeding begin!
Metro had itself a party this morning, with tons of local officials making happy speeches and a federal official on hand to dole out cash.
The transit agency announced it's officially been cleared to get $900 million in federal funds to build more light rail in town, funds that had been endangered due to previous Metro administrations' ineptitude (to put the best possible spin on it).
"The rail expansion team, Metro board members, past and present and our entire staff, past and present, should be proud of accomplishing an enormous task. We've never lost sight of the prize and finally it is Houston's," board chair Gilbert Garcia said at the event. "We thank all the community patriots for all their help in making this day happen. This is a major investment in the region that will not only create jobs but boost economic development."
Metro CEO George Greanias said, "The $900 million federal grants more than double the local dollars being used to construct the 5.3 mile North (Red) extension* and the 6.6 mile Southeast (Purple)* lines and mark the first time rail projects here have received FFGAs. This is a great example of how we can leverage our local dollars to improve mobility in the region."
The feds had earlier seemed ready to okay the funds, but then launched an investigation into whether Metro had violated "Buy American" guidelines in buying new rail cars. The agency re-bidded the contract.
The total cost of the light-rail lines is allegedly going to be $1.6 billion.