I read an interesting story in the Houston Chronicle recently. The headline “City told ‘to get its act together’ on rail” caught my attention as a council candidate, but more importantly as a native Houstonian.
Here are a couple of key points from the article that I feel are worth looking at more closely:
“Politicians are not the only Houston-area people divided on the merits of rail. Many taxpayers inside and outside the city remain skeptical that light rail is right for Houston, and that the investment thus far has paid off. For them, a lack of federal investment is a good thing.
Others have pressed for greater investment, but have largely not garnered the support to advance projects like the University Line, linking downtown with the Galleria area.”
Rail is starting to come across to me as an endless spending boondoggle. Where does the spending end? Is there ever an end of the line (no pun intended) to the pro-rail advocates? Legislatures sometimes have a habit of creating a fictional problem just so they can be the solution to that problem. I think you see that bright and clear with the Rail line and the City’s insistence that we keep laying more tracks. Until any legitimate data suggests that we need to keep expanding the rail line, then we need to use the City funds for other items where real needs exist. If we were to be given Federal funds for the rail project, we don’t have the discipline to stay within that allocation, and we end up building more and more that exceeds the funds and come out of the Taxpayer pockets.
Congressman Culberson made a couple of interesting comments:
“Rep. John Culberson, a longtime critic of efforts to run rail down Richmond Avenue westward toward Loop 610, has opposed any federal funds aimed at the University Line because he views the line as unaffordable.”
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“Metro has squandered millions of taxpayer dollars, and they cannot afford to build any more rail beyond the three lines already under construction,” Culberson said. “I look forward to the day when Metro publicly admits what they have privately told me: They can’t afford to expand light rail in the city.”
Will we ever get straight answers and accurate price totals? Unlikely. Until we do, I can’t see the need to keep throwing money the city doesn’t have, and the federal government doesn’t have it either for that matter, at an endless amount of light rail dreams. Instead, let’s focus city resources on priorities, efficiency and revitalizing our community. . . . BECAUSE COMMUNITY COMES FIRST.