New METRO rail line affects schools, businesses

January 22, 2010 4:20:59 PM PST
Some call it the price of progress as a local school dedicated to helping handicapped children finds itself in the way of the planned light rail. We showed you Thursday night on Eyewitness News at 10pm the final proposed route for the University line. The route is designed to get people to and from the University of Houston and TSU. But it will also affect a lot of businesses and people who live along these stretches of roads.

At the Our Network School, it's all about personal growth and expansion for the special needs students. But there's another type of expansion happening outside that has educators worried.

"For us, if it calls for selling or shutting down the property and losing this particular spot, we'll be forced to look for another location for Our Network School," said Kathy Carter of Our Network School.

They operate inside the premises of the Central Presbyterian Church on Richmond at Cummins and on the front row of the soon to be built METRO light rail University corridor.

The University corridor will have three segments from Hillcroft to Greenway. The 11-mile line will cut through Uptown, the Galleria, over Main Street into TSU and U of H, ending at the Eastwood transit center off Cullen.

Within the University corridor, METRO plans to acquire an estimated 212 parcels of land, buying seven parcels outright.

METRO predicts some roadways will be squeezed down from 19 feet to 11 feet, others will be reconfigured and some properties will lose up to eight feet of land.

"We're not trying to eliminate business from residents, we're trying to provide a service to those people. We want to implement a project that will bring more business to your locations," said Kimberly Slaughter METRO Associate VP of Planning.

Not good enough for one business owner who says METRO wants too much.

"Twenty-three acres of property along an 11-mile route is being taken away. Why? How are those businesses going to exist?" said business owner Paul Magaziner.

METRO said they're going to work on a case-by-case basis as far as acquiring those parcels of land. They plan to have the University line up and running by the year 2015.