HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In Sarah Gutiérrez's Eastwood neighborhood, the bright red "Stop METRO" signs are popping up faster than spring flowers.
"I have more. I'm going to be putting out more," Gutierrez, who has called the neighborhood home since the 1960s, said. "Signs don't do anything. Action does. We want to tell METRO we don't want this monstrosity here."
Gutierrez and her neighbors in Eastwood are concerned about the proposed routing of a portion of the University Bus Rapid Transit line that will traverse Houston when it is finished. Her community is mainly worried about Segment 4, which is currently designed to go along Lockwood, with portions of it elevated to go over existing train tracks.
"I don't think they thought through the impact of the neighborhood of what's going to happen," Gutierrez said. Her neighbors and members of the Eastwood Civic Club have not only distributed signs but also established a website and a Change.org petition.
The neighbors are not against Bus Rapid Transit, which puts buses on dedicated lanes like a light rail train. The most high-profile BRT line is the current one traversing the Galleria/Uptown area. The Eastwood residents just don't want the overpass METRO is proposing to make it happen. They would prefer the route be moved a few blocks away and not be directly on Lockwood.
"We certainly appreciate everything the Eastwood community has told us," Tracy Jackson, a METRO spokesperson, said. Jackson points out the transit agency began engaging with community members in 2017, even before voters passed the referendum to increase transit options.
"METRO understands that transit projects need to enhance communities," Jackson said, adding that many options were considered. "What we know at this point is if we move with an underpass instead of an overpass, that would increase flooding issues for the community."
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City Council Member Robert Gallegos is holding a community meeting Tuesday night to bring all sides together. He admits that finding a compromise will be hard.
"The concern is that METRO is proposing an overpass or underpass," said Gallegos, who says his focus is to listen to everyone's arguments. "Houston's getting larger and bigger, and the ports will have more cargo, so we're going to have more trains in the future, so we have to consider how we can get vehicles over the railroad tracks."
But for Gutierrez and her neighbors, the only thing they want is for the planned bus lanes to move to a different street.
"I'm for mass transit. I'm just not for it (cutting through) in my neighborhood," Gutierrez said.
Armed with her neighborhood's arguments, Guiterrez headed off to meetings on Tuesday, riding the METRO Light Rail.
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