Monday, July 13, 2009

Houston hosts trio of LRT ceremonies for two new lines

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The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, which operates Houston’s METRORail light rail, marked groundbreaking for two new light rail lines Monday with three distinct ceremonies.

Groundbreaking for the METRORail North Line was held early Monday morning at the Northline Mall on Fulton Street, while a second ceremony, scheduled to occur simultaneously, was held for the Southeast Line at The PalmCenter on Griggs Road. A third, joint ceremony at roughly 10:30 a.m. marking the start of construction for both lines took place at Union Station in Minute Maid Park.

The North Line will run from the existing University of Houston Downtown Station, current northern terminus of the existing Red Line LRT service, to North Line Mall. The Southeast Line will run from downtown (linking with the Red Line) toTexas Southern University and the University of Houston.

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“What this is all about is connecting communities,” said METRORail spokesman George Smalley. “It’s making it easier for people to get to a job, a medical facility or get to school. So, it is going to change the look of Houston and the feel of Houston and how we move about.”

Houston METRORail’s 7.5-mile Red Line, which opened on Jan. 1, 2004, currently handles about 39,500 weekday riders. After all five LRT lines (existing and proposed) are in operation, METRORail estimates ridership of 129,000 per day by 2030.