METRO begins laying down new track for light rail

August 10, 2011 4:38:26 PM PDT
METRO's southeast rail line is moving a step closer to completion and the plan to link downtown with the University of Houston and other areas.

Ten years after the last rail line was constructed, a new rail line project began, so you could say plans for the southeast rail line are now set in stone.

After years of planning and community meetings, the first slabs of concrete begin to form an 80-foot section of steel rail on Houston's southeast light rail line. It's the first rail line under construction after a decade lull.

Tony Collet lives a block away and is pleased with METRO's progress.

"I think it's good, with the infrastructure, taking care of the roads and all the things that are going to benefit east downtown, I think it's gonna be great," Collet said.

The new rail line will run 6.6 miles, connecting southeast Houston to the current Main St. line. And Collet hopes it will only spark more development in the area.

"With the stadium coming in and us getting more restaurants around here and more coffee shops and things like that, it would be great. This community is growing," Collet said.

And all the hard hats in the area, city leaders say, are a sign of more things to come. The new rail line projects is expected to bring jobs into downtown, including new business.

"The number of job to be created by an extended METRO mobility system are upwards of 60,000," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.

Access is still what excites most people. When entirely complete and all proposed lines are connected, Houston will have approximately 34 miles of light rail line to traverse the city.

"If I could give up my vehicle, I would," Houstonian Jeff Rice said.

"Really what this is about, is about the people who will be riding this system and the opportunities they will get as a result of the connections that are being set in concrete right now," said METRO board member Christof Spieler.

And Collet says that his real estate purchase five years ago just seem to be getting better and better.

"It was the last area of Houston that had great views of downtown so picked it for location," he said.

With construction beginning on Wednesday, a completion date is set for 2014.

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