Metro Encourages Houstonians To 'Rally Around The Rails'

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says light rail is important to Houston's future, but for now, things aren't easy for businesses along its path.

"Anytime we do major construction projects in the city it can be a real pain."

Parker says she went through the same thing when she owned a bookstore on Richmond Avenue in the 1990's. She says street reconstruction projects and poor access nearly put her out of businesses.

"If you're driving through a neighborhood and you see a construction project, you stop and think, well maybe I ought to take another route for awhile."

Parker is joining other local officials in encouraging Houstonians to brave the traffic obstacles and visit some of the nearly 500 businesses along the three lines now under construction. That includes shops and restaurants along Harrisburg on the East Line, Fulton Street on the North Line, and Scott Street on the Southeast Line.

One of those businesses is Arga Bougeois' restaurant on Martin Luther King Boulevard.  So how is she coping?

"Wow, smile a lot so I won't cry."

Bougeois says it wasn't easy when the work first started but she feels good communication has kept the customers coming in.

"Because there's such large construction bulldozers and so forth, sometimes they block the view. So constantly in the morning we're looking where the opening is."  

Metro says it wants to avoid the problems businesses experienced during construction of the Main Street line. The agency is offering help with signage. It's also given out a couple of million dollars in cash assistance.

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