Planned METRO rail project requires more land

January 22, 2010 4:26:18 PM PST
We're getting a closer look at the path METRO will take when it builds the controversial Richmond rail line. That path is right through dozens of properties. The just-released final impact statement on METRO's light rail University line shows who will have part of their property taken and who will lose all of it.

For 11 years, Decklan Plunkett has owned the Irish bar The Harp on Richmond. He is directly in the path of the planned University line.

"There's very little you can do about it, you know. It's up to the city. If the city wants your property, they can take it. We'll just have to hope for the best," said Plunkett.

Under the current plan, Plunkett will lose part of his front deck and possibly more.

"They can take eight feet so we will lose some parking spaces," Plunkett said.

The University line will travel 11 miles from Hillcroft transit to Greenway, Uptown, the Galleria, crossing over Main St. to TSU, the University of Houston and the Eastwood transit center.

"What we try to do is make sure that the public knows that if they are going to be impacted, we will work with them to try to make that as painless as possible," said Kimberly Slaughter, METRO Associate VP of Planning.

The lines drawn for the proposed right of way show more than 150 residents or business owners will be relocated, with 40 structures being affected. The plan began in 2003 with 55 plans then was narrowed down to eight and now one.

"From the government's perspective and our perspective, it's one with minimal impact and the best benefit to the public," said Slaughter.

Decklan Plunkett just hopes to survive.

"I think the city needs the light rail going down Richmond, but we have to survive the construction process," said Plunkett.

METRO hopes the University line will be up and running by the year 2015.

Eyewitness News worked on this story with our Houston Community Newspaper partner, the River Oaks Examiner.