Metro released news yesterday that the Federal Transit Administration has officially approved an environmental impact review of the University light rail line, giving Metro the authority to start buying land along the planned 11.3 mile route.
At another time, this would have been great news for Metro, especially considering progress on the University line has been slow-going, but in the current state of the agency, things are going to continue on hold. At least for now.
"We're financially constrained on our options, so we're still in a planning mode and in a design mode [on the University line]," Margaret O'Brien Molina, a representative for Metro, told Hair Balls. "We want to make sure we get the best value for whatever we do."
So Metro won't be buying any chunks of land for this line any time soon.
The University line has been the most contested of the five new lines included in Metro's light rail expansion.
Much of the route runs along Richmond from downtown to Greenway Plaza, and at least one Richmond Avenue business owner sued to stop it. Her attorney called the lawsuit against Metro "nuclear war."
But Metro has continued with its plans.
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We've got additional questions into Metro for more details about what yesterday's announcement means for the University line, and as soon as we hear back, we'll be sure to file any updates.
Update: According to Molina, property acquisition "is not expected to begin for months."
The University route, of course, if fixed, but Metro will continue to refine the engineering of the line.
"The design process will continue with previously selected engineering firms, including AECOM," Molina said via e-mail. "Parsons is not a party to the continuation of the design."