Some Third Ward residents attended last night’s Metro (New and Improved) Solutions meeting to protest Metro’s desire to run light rail through the TSU campus (Rosanna Ruiz, Chronicle):
Dozens gathered around aerial maps at the Third Ward Multi-Service Center, which outlined the proposed paths of its University corridor rail line. Many were focused upon the plan to build a rail line from Wheeler to Scott, which requires reopening a portion of Wheeler on TSU’s campus that was closed in 1984 and converted to a pedestrian mall, now known as “Tiger Walk.”
“Wheeler was closed because students kept getting hit by cars,” explained Gabrielle Green-del Bosque, a TSU student. “Students would have to cross the rail line to get to classes and I’m not too thrilled to have to wait on a train.”
Wheeler is closed at Ennis, where the TSU campus begins, and reopens at Tierwester, on the east side, and continues to the University of Houston.
“The train line will destroy the sense of community that the closure of the street has generated inside the campus,” TSU’s acting president Bobby L. Wilson wrote in a letter to Metro President and CEO Frank Wilson. He also cited safety, noise and interference of ongoing campuswide renovation and landscaping projects as other reasons for the opposition.
Alabama and Elgin are also among the alternate streets also being considered for the east-west line, but only Wheeler, which becomes Richmond west of Main, would provide a direct connection.
Minister Robert Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam’s southwest region and a TSU graduate, said a rail line would be beneficial to the Third Ward neighborhood, but he favors Alabama or Elgin as alternate routes rather than cutting through his alma mater.
After the new Metro Solutions plan was announced last year, Robert Muhammad wrote an op-ed for the Chronicle that denounced Mayor White and Metro officials for their arrogance in changing the original plan without consulting anyone in the affected communities:
Let me be clear, it is not just the revised rail plan, but the way the mayor and the Metropolitan Transit Authority communicated the rail plan changes to the community that opens them to criticism. The community’s angst is rooted in what appears to be the arrogance of power.
The citizens of Houston elected White to be the mayor — not their father. The title of the popular television show was Father Knows Best — not mayor, congressman or transportation planner knows best. In his op-ed, Mayor White stated, in the future tense, that he and Metro will listen to the community and will explain the transit plan to them. If the listening and explaining would have been in the past tense, the mayor and Metro would not find it necessary now to be defensive about the plan.
Similar to the fallout from the implementation of the Safe Clear program, it appears that the community is a public policy afterthought with White’s administration.
That’s basically how Mayor White operates. When he wants something, he makes it happen, no matter what. It would appear from today’s Chronicle story that Mayor White has smoothed things over with Muhammad, and if Metro takes Wheeler off the table, Third Ward opposition may fade away.
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