August 14, 2013

Feds award Houston Metro $189M for light rail

Photo courtesy Houston Metro

Photo courtesy Houston Metro

Congress again gave the green light for METRORail expansion, allowing the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, Texas (Metro) to fulfill the goals of Houston’s 2003 referendum with the appropriation of $94.5 million for the North/Red Line extension and another $94.5 million for the Southeast/Purple Line.

The funds are part of the $900 million Full Funding Grant Agreements signed by federal officials in November of 2011.

“This is another key development in our progress toward building light rail for Houston,” said Metro board Chairman Gilbert Garcia. “We want to extend thanks to our congressional delegation and the many people who have supported efforts to improve the Metro transit system.”

Metro has already received $523.7 million of the Full Funding Grant Agreements. The transit agency expects to begin receiving this latest $189 million appropriation within the next 30 days and will spend the money completing the 5.3 mile North/Red Line extension, which is a continuation of the current Main Street Line as well as the 6.6 mile-Southeast Line.

The Southeast/Purple Line will tie into the Main Street Line, providing Texas Southern University and the University of Houston Central Campus with new transit options. The remaining $187.3 million of the FFGA is expected to be appropriated in 2014.

“This action allows us to finish the work the people of Houston voted for,” said Tom Lambert, Metro interim president/CEO. “Congress is giving us a critical tool with this funding, and we are taking every step we can to make sure these are dollars well spent. Our staff and the north side community are looking forward to the opening of the North/Red Line in December of this year. Meanwhile work continues on the Southeast/Purple Line and the locally-funded East End/Green Line, which will open later in 2014.”

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