Light Rail Blazes Forth Despite Temperatures
Blistering temperatures couldn’t stop a new and exciting milestone from being observed Wednesday. A crowd of hard-hatted, safety-vested notables endured withering heat to watch construction crews complete an 80-foot bed for light rail track – the first Houston has seen in 10 years. The steel rail near Paige and Rusk, east of downtown, will be part of the 6.6-mile Southeast (Purple) Line. The line, starting near the new Dynamo Stadium will run to Palm Center near the University of Houston Central Campus and is expected to be open in mid-2014.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) watched intently as a waiting cement mixer truck released a slurry mix of concrete through an open chute and onto the waiting track-bed. She joined other officials in support of METRO public transit and cited light rail for improved infrastructure and many jobs it brings to the city.
METRO Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia said he was delighted with the progress, "This is an exciting moment and an exciting day for the community and certainly all of us at METRO. It’s been more than 10 years since we laid concrete for rail. We’re happy to be here today to tell everyone - light rail is coming to Houston."
Vice-chair Allen Watson and Board Members Christof Spieler, Gary Stobb and Trinidad “Trini” Mendenhall Sosa as well as George Greanias, president & CEO;
and David Couch, senior vice president of Capital Programs shared Chairman Garcia’s enthusiasm, clapping and giving a thumbs up as the HRT crew spread the lumpy gray mixture sluicing through the frame criss-crossed with rebar. About 1,200 feet of track was prepared with lime for the new concrete slab. A plastic sheet protected the rail from the newly poured concrete, which will take a few days to dry. Once cured, the sheet will be removed and the track slab completed. The last time METRO poured concrete for new light-rail track was for the Main Street Red Line in September 2001.
The Southeast (Purple) Line is 6.6 miles long and will connect downtown to Palm Center. Destinations include downtown, MacGregor Park, Texas Southern University and UH Central Campus. Stations are at Smith, Fannin, Crawford, Bastrop, Leeland, Elgin, Scott/Cleburne, Wheeler/MLK, MacGregor Park and Palm Center. For more information visit ridemetro.org