March 4, 2024

An Encouraging Development at Metro

An Encouraging Development at Metro

Last Thursday, the Metro board voted to approve the expansion of a project that had been previously authorized to repair pavement on Westheimer from Loop 610 to downtown.  As the project was originally approved, Metro was, for the most part, only repaving the outside lanes where its buses run. The City had a plan to complete paving on the entire street, but that part of the project has been delayed due to a lack of funding.

It would have been insane to disrupt a busy street like Westheimer to pave half the street, only to have the City come back later and do it all over again. Also, the drivers would have been forced to navigate paving surfaces that likely would have been uneven to some degree. Having that unprotected edge in the middle of the street would shortened the life of the repaving as well. And, of course, repaving the street in two projects would have been considerably more expensive.

So, last week the Metro staff made the common-sense recommendation (see p. 10, et. seq.) to the board to expand the project to include the entire street.  It will also include upgrading bus stops along the route as part of its BOOST program.

The cost of the project will increase from $8.6 million to $12.2 million as a result of the expansion. Still, that is a fraction of what the City would have spent finishing the job in a second round. So, vehicles using Westheimer, both buses and autos, are going to get an improved street sooner with less taxpayer money. I would call that a win-win.

This is an encouraging development. Clearly, the expansion of project is something that the staff had previously considered. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the staff decided to bring this forward their recommendation to pave the entire street immediately after Mayor Whitmire appointed a new chair at Metro. I take it as a hopeful sign that the change in leadership will encourage more projects that will efficiently improve mobility, as opposed to the nonsensical vanity projects on which Metro has wasted millions of dollars over the last two decades.

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