The $71 million spent planning nonexistent Houston Metro rail line could have been used to pave route in dollar bills


Metro officials have spent $71 million on one light rail line during the last decade, but you wouldn’t know it walking down the street where it’s planned.

No construction has begun on the University Line because officials from the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston say no money exists to build it, KTRK reports. The $71 million has been spent on environmental studies, land appraisals and analyzing possible routes.

Here’s an additional fun fact from reporter Ted Oberg: Metro spent so much money that the agency could have just as easily laid one-dollar bills down the entire route from Hillcroft through Downtown, with money to spare.

Now, KTRK reports, the light rail line might not be built until 2025 at the soonest.

"The Metro board has not scrapped plans for the University Line,” Metro officials told KTRK-TV in a statement. “While work has slowed down Metro has not pulled this project out of its rail expansion program. The transit agency is being fiscally responsible, and as we have stated in the past, Metro will proceed with rail expansion as funds become available.”

Some residents told the TV station they feel betrayed by Metro, and former Councilwoman Sue Lovell showed the creaky, pothole-riven roads that haven’t been repaired in anticipation of a light-rail line. Metro has also fallen short on promises made at the time of a 2003 bond referendum, when agency leaders sold voters on expanded bus service and a light-rail expansion plan with 21.5 miles of track to be complete by the end of 2012. Neither promise has been kept.

“Leadership at Metro has stated over and over that we will not build more than we can afford,” Metro spokesman Jerome Gray told Texas Watchdog last month. “That remains true.”

Contact Mike Cronin at or 713-228-2850.

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