Uptown Bus Rapid Transit Gets Green Light

Buses running along dedicated, separated lanes on Post Oak Boulevard in the Galleria area could be a reality by 2017. A key transportation committee today approved a plan to spend more than $60 million dollars on the transit project that not everyone thinks is a good idea.

It’s called Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT for short. The project would widen Post Oak in the Uptown area by 16 feet and add two bus lanes that would be separated from other traffic by grass medians. The Houston Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council has approved the plan that would use initial funding from the sale of bonds as part of the area’s tax reinvestment zone designation. John Breeding is with the Uptown Houston District. 

“We’re an area that is one of the largest business centers in the United States. We have a lot of residential, retail, entertainment, but we don’t have transit. This is a great way to start and we’re excited about working with Metro. The most difficult part is what we’ve gotten done here. Doing the engineering and pouring concrete and doing traffic management is the fun part. This is was the tough part and I’m excited that we were successful.” 

The buses would transport Galleria-area workers between transit centers on either end of the corridor. One of those transit centers, near Westpark and South Rice hasn’t been built yet but was also approved by the transportation committee. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is the chairman of the Transportation Policy Council and was one of two votes against the plan. 

“If I had my druthers and if you really believe in the park-and-ride concept, then I’d run a monorail between the two transit centers and figure out how much that would cost and not have it stop umpteen times going up and down Post Oak, but instead have two or three stops that you can reach through elevated walkways.” 

The plan might eventually also have to utilize special lanes along the West Loop to get riders all the way to the Northwest Transit center near 610 and I-10. Emmett says the committee has spoken. 

“I disagree with the decision, but we have a process that everybody went through and it was overwhelmingly approved but I think I would have looked at it from a different perspective. We may look up ten years  from now, or whoever is sitting around this table ten years from now and go, well now we’ve got to tear all that up and put something else in.”
Final design plans for the project could be ready by early 2015. The entire project could be finished in time for the Super Bowl in 2017, although officials say that time-line might be a bit ambitious. 

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