College Students Develop Plan for Light Rail on Washington Avenue

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While Metro continues to struggle with ideas for extending the light rail with ease, some college kids might've figured it out.

Graduate-level and undergraduate-level interns from the SWA Group recently revealed their redevelopment ideas for the Washington Avenue Corridor, a part of Super Neighborhood #22 in the Heights. SWA is an international firm with offices in Houston. The company selects students from all over the globe, drops them in different cities and asks them to come up with landscape and layout designs that would make things more efficient.

The Houston group’s plan includes museums, green spaces, wider sidewalks and, most notably, mass transit solutions.

“They came up with … a way to introduce light rail down the Washington Avenue Corridor in a way that appears to be supported by the small business owners that have seen it so far,” says Jane Cahill, president of the Super Neighborhood #22 council. She says the business owners in the area were impressed with the interns’ solutions which encourage small businesses to stay rather than running them out.

“The idea is to create a couplet between Washington Avenue and Center Street so that Washington Avenue would be converted to a one-way street going east and Center Street a one-way street going west,” Cahill says. “The light rail would be introduced on each of those streets in those directions and the block in between them would become perfect for intensified commercial development. It would allow, at the same time, vehicular traffic to continue on both streets.”

Hey Metro: Give these kids a job.

Cahill says the council has been working on redevelopment ideas for the past year and the light rail idea, along with some of the other suggestions from the interns, will be added to the master plan that will presented to the other ten constituent neighborhoods in the area.

Cahill says once it meets approval from these guys, then it’s off to city hall.

“We plan to go to the city and ask for the city’s support in formally endorsing and helping us to implement that,” Cahill says. “Hopefully, [it will be done] by the end of this year if we want to have it in place for the municipal election cycle next year.”

To check out more of these ideas go here and click “2008.”

Dusti Rhodes

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