Annise Parker Calls For (Expensive) Underpass On East End Light-Rail Line

The city of Houston has formally requested metro's board to use an underpass rather than an overpass at the intersection of Harrisburg and Hughes streets, an option that could add up to $23 million to the project.

The so-called "All-Under" option will, Mayor Annise Parker says, "promote pedestrian and vehicular safety in the area and encourage community development, and enhance overall mobility in the East End."

Metro CEO George Greanias says the decision could add up to two years to construction, and the additional costs will not include a pedestrian tunnel in the underpass. But, knowing where the political bread is buttered, the Parker appointee said "Despite the hurdles ahead, this request is a good example of community partnerships. We look forward to working with the city in seeing this project to completion."

The city is offering $20.6 million to cover the increased costs:

$10.0 million -- CIP funds previously committed to this issue $4.9 million -- Postponement of the Fulton Paving and Drainage Project (Dist. H) $3.2 million -- Postponement of the Telephone Road Reconstruction (Dist. I) $2.5 million -- Harrisburg TIRZ funds

Says the city's announcement:

METRO's original design for the crossing accommodated light-rail only. The city of Houston, after extensive dialog with the community, commissioned a study on the feasibility of constructing an underpass. The betterment will require collaboration with Houston Belt and Terminal (HBT) Railroad, and creation of a new and temporary terminus at Altic. Offsetting the higher cost, however, is an added value to railroad operations - the new design, according to the city, will ease flooding impairments.

The Metro board must still vote on the proposal.

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