Council Stalls Light Rail Plan

METRO can't move forward without approval from the city. And the city, or more accurately, three city council members decided they weren't ready to sign off on the deal.

Council Member Ron Green says there's a disconnect and lack of communication between the METRO board and council.

"We've got to be able to believe in this document in order to vote for it. I know we want to move expeditiously, but unfortunately this may just not be the thing to move very quickly on."

Green says he feels like if he were to vote on the agreement right now, he'd be voting on a black piece of paper.

His concerns were echoed by Council Members Jolanda Jones and Pam Holm. All three tagged the item so it won't come up for vote until next week.

"Some of us are ready to move on and we're really anxious and I appreciate that. But to me this is the most important vote I'm going to cast."

Council member Pam Holm.

"And I want to make sure that the city of Houston retains the control that offers a balance between our citizen needs and the needs of putting the rail in place."

Despite the hesitation from some, there was general support for light rail around the table. Council member Sue Lovell urged her colleagues to move forward.

"It will never be the perfect document. But at this point, Mayor, I think that we have a document that is a good document with a lot of input. And so I think around the table while we all still have some concerns, I do think that at some point in time we have to stop and take a vote whether we want to move forward and have light rail in this city or we don't."

METRO CEO Frank Wilson was at the meeting and heard the Council Members comments. He says board members have attended three council committee meetings and will try to balance the various concerns.

"It's not from lack of effort. It may be from the standpoint that you can't satisfy everyone that you wind up with people saying they've not been heard. And so nevertheless, we go back and examine our efforts and make sure that we've not missed something."

The agreement between METRO and the city will come up for vote again next week. And even if Green, Jones and Holm's questions aren't answered, there's enough support for the agreement that it will likely pass.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
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