Rail construction means no power for neighbors

December 7, 2010 5:32:32 PM PST
The construction of a new METRO rail line north of downtown is causing havoc for some of its new neighbors. Some residents are upset that construction crews will be turning off their electricity, on what's sure to be another cold night. Neighbors say it's too cold to be without power for their heaters, and some question why METRO chose tonight for their power outage.

The power outage couldn't come at a worse time for Ira Rodriguez. She has four children and says she does not have a gas heater.

"Everything we have is electric," she said in Spanish. "The only gas I have is for my stove top and that's too dangerous to use to heat my home."

Power line poles are being replaced. The power shutdown is scheduled for tonight starting at 11:30pm. About 150 homes will be without electricity until 4am Wednesday.

"There's seven construction segments on the north corridor," said METRO contractor Joe Dooley. "Four have already had relocations and this is the fifth, so there are two more."

The affected area covers several streets from Fulton to North Main and is part of the larger red line or north corridor for light rail. The 5.3 mile line runs from UH-Downtown to Northline.

It was back in August when neighbors along the green or east line lost power without warning, meaning a loss of money and business.

That's why neighbors at Latim American Medical are skeptical. They already are suffering a loss of business becuase of construction and are worried tonight's power outage could stretch into another day.

"We'd have to close, number one we need air in here," said Theresa Estrada with Latin American Medical. "We can't have it hot in here. We have refrigerators that have medications in them,"

Meanwhile the League of United Latin American Citizens questions why the outage has to happen on such a cold night.

-sot- "I think they should postpone it at least until it gets a little bit warmer," said Herlinda Garcia with LULAC.

METRO says their construction plans were made well in advance and any postponement would cost millions in delays. METRO says they are prepared to help neighbors stay warm if they need it. Anyone needing help can call the 24-hour manned phone line at the North line community outreach office -- 713-343-4354.


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