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Metro: Light Rail Projects Stalled

Houstonians anxious for Metro to finish its light rail expansion are going to have to stick it out a while longer. Wendy Siegle explains why.


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Metro’s President and CEO George Greanias has announced that due to budget restraints, work on the rail expansion project will be scaled back. Metro’s budget for the project, which seeks to add five more lines to the existing Main Street line, has been slashed by almost 70 percent — dropping from $458 million to $143 million. That means the transit agency has to make some serious adjustments to reduce project costs, says Greanias.

“We’ve had no alternative but to eliminate, reduce, or suspend many contracts. We’re just having to take some very difficult and regrettable steps, but we’re doing them.”

Metro has identified more than one hundred engineering, construction, small business, and community outreach contracts that will be either suspended or reduced. Greanias says utility relocation work on the North and Southeast lines will continue at the current pace till the end of the year. And street and utility work on certain sections of the East End line will also keep moving forward. But for now, work on the University and Uptown lines is stalled.

“In the short term, we’re going to take the serious steps that are needed to make sure that we don’t put the agency or its long term programs into financial jeopardy.”

Metro’s overall budget, which was adopted last month, was trimmed back by 31 percent. The agency was depending on federal funding for two of the light rail lines, but was told in September that the money would be delayed because Metro violated federal purchasing laws and Buy America rules.