Rail Supporters Turn Into Customers Along Richmond Avenue

While METRO has not yet made a decision on the light rail route for the University Line, it will be taking public comments next week on the environmental impact of the proposed routes. Meanwhile, those for and against the possible route along Richmond Avenue are working to get their opposing messages to as many people as possible. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice meet with both sides and reports on the efforts of Richmond Rail Dot Org.

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It's the group that's in favor of a light rail line running along Richmond Avenue. We met at Maria Selma, a restaurant in the 1200 block of Richmond.

"We want rail to go where the people are."

Joe Webb is the group's treasurer.

"If you're going to have a rail system, don't put it in the middle of nowhere where nobody can use it. You've got to have it where people are: what better place than on Richmond."

Webb says because there's no way to get around the fact that during construction businesses along Richmond would suffer, most Tuesday nights members of RichmondRail.org go to a selected restaurant to dine together and to carry a message to the owner. They call it winning support one business at a time.

"And the idea is a) we want everybody to understand we want rail along Richmond but b) we want them to know we are going to be here for you, because you are our neighborhood restaurant. We want you; we want you to survive it."

Webb says this has been going on for about six months with the Tuesday night turnout as low as 20 or so during the holidays and at times more than 60. They are easy to spot; they all wear buttons in support of rail along Richmond. Among them is Claude Wynn, an area resident and the president of the Museum District Business Alliance is not concerned by rail on Richmond.

"Absolutely not, it is one of the assets that I think this neighborhood needs, its part major city building and how you plan major cities."

Wynn sees the concept of Tuesday Night Out as a positive way to spread the Richmond rail message, time and again.

"We come back, I mean we're back here, it's not about 'well we checked you off'. We're coming back on a recurring basis. We are his long term customers. We'll be here to support you during the construction and afterwards too."

RichmondRail.org is certain its route is the best for area residents, businesses and the city. Next Monday morning we'll hear the case against rail on Richmond from members of the Richmond Area Coalition who are just as certain that their plan is best for residents, businesses and the city.

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