|Transit consultants Tuesday unveiled visions of a commuter rail line between Galveston and Houston that could speed past traffic clogs, perhaps as soon as 2012.
The commuter rail proposal was one of several alternatives outlined in a media briefing on the Galveston-Houston Mobility Corridor Alternative Analysis, held Tuesday afternoon in Houston.
The alternatives will undergo public scrutiny in a series of nine open house meetings and also will be evaluated by government entities and agencies.
La Marque Mayor Geraldine Sam doesnâ€™t need convincing. The commuter rail would bring new life to the city sheâ€™s lived in all her 57 years, she said.
â€œIt would be like a new birth, adding a lot of new things â€” new businesses, new homes,â€ she said after the media briefing. â€œPeople could live in our area and ride the rail to work.
â€œIt would be a 20- to 30-minute ride to Houston, instead of stuck in traffic for two to three hours,â€ she said. â€œFor me to get here today, it was bumper to bumper.â€
The Interstate 45 corridor is one of the most congested routes in the region, Barry Goodman, president of Goodman Corp., a Houston consulting firm, said.
â€œWe have major mobility problems that require comprehensive solutions, and thatâ€™s what this process is about,â€ he said.
The process involves outlining alternatives to the public, cities, counties and agencies along the corridor, then coming to a consensus before going hat in hand to Washington for federal funding.
â€œWe need to look at the most cost-effective solution in this corridor,â€ Goodman said.
â€œWe believe a commuter rail works well, but we need to now prove our case.â€
The alternatives presented included:
â€œWhat Iâ€™m most excited about with commuter rail is that it also provides for evacuation from Galveston,â€ Carl Sharpe, vice president of planning and urban design for the Goodman Corp., said.
â€œThis is not just to get people to work more conveniently and comfortably.â€
If a consensus is reached for a commuter rail project, and if federal funds are obtained, some phases of the rail line could be in place as early as 2012, and probably not later than 2015, Sharpe said. He has lived in Houston 30 years now but remembers his graduate school days in Philadelphia when he commuted by rail.
â€œIt was great,â€ he said.
At A Glance
The first phase of public meetings will be offered as open houses, with booths outlining each alternative staffed by experts to answer questions. The events will be two hours in length, but will be come-and-go programs.
Dates and locations are:
Officials hope a consensus will be built in the next nine to 10 months, as they receive and analyze public comments from the meetings. Comments also can be made at info(at)galvestonrailstudy.com. The project Web site will be online by mid-September at www.galvestonrailstudy.com