METRO’s board has approved a plan to build a controversial rail line on Richmond and Wheeler.
METRO was considering three different plans but have mostly supported building the expansion line along Richmond to Cummins Street to connect with Highway 59 and Westpark Road.
The other two plans have the light-rail system being constructed on Richmond Avenue and connecting to Westpark via Greenway Plaza or Highway 59 and/or the Westpark feeder road.
All three plans have the line ending at the Hillcroft Transit Center.
Richmond Avenue residents have objected to the plan METRO is pushing for more than four years because of traffic concerns and safety issues.
According to the Mobility Coalition, the group opposing METRO’s plans to build on Richmond, say the plan goes against the will of the voters as expressed in a 2003 referendum.
“Why is it that you care so much about doing exactly what the ballot tells you you cannot do? Why won’t you put rail down Westpark? Why will you, at all cost, put rail down Richmond?” Mobility Coalition attorney Andy Taylor said during a news conference Monday.
A 2006 engineering study, presented by the Mobility Coalition on Monday, said that if a light-rail system were built on Richmond Avenue that, under the right circumstances, an electrical shock could jump from the rail onto a water pipe underneath the road and cause an explosion.
The mobility coalition believes that building a light-rail system on Richmond Avenue on top of the pipe is unsafe not only because it could potentially cause an explosion, but because it could make it difficult to reach the pipe in an emergency situation.
The pipe is about 5 1/2 feet wide, essentially the size of a compact car, and carries water to more than 500,000 people on Houston’s west side.