Contact: Angela Gates
HOUSTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today celebrated the opening of Houston’s North Line light rail extension, the first of three new light rail lines that will significantly improve transit options in one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing areas. FTA Regional Administrator Robert Patrick joined U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) officials, and other state and local representatives at a community event to celebrate the new service.
“Expanding transit options throughout the Houston region will help thousands of hard working families connect to the jobs, education and health care services they need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Across the country, we are investing in projects like this one that provide greater transportation choices, reduce congestion on area roadways, and lay a solid foundation for future economic growth.”
The Department is providing $900 million toward construction of two new light rail lines in Houston, including $450 million for the North Line and $450 million for the Southeast Line, which is currently under construction and expected to open in 2014. Funding for both rail lines is provided through FTA’s Capital Investment (New Starts) Grant Program.
“The fourth largest city in the United States needs and deserves a world class transit system that meets the needs of residents today and will accommodate Houston’s growing population,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “With more than one million people expected to move to the Houston region over the next decade, public transportation is key to building a successful, sustainable, and competitive environment to do business while creating thousands of jobs along the way.”
Houston METRO estimates that nearly 1,800 jobs have been created during construction of the two new light rail lines. In addition, expanding service to the north and the southeast is part of the city’s sweeping plan to connect Houston’s workforce with major downtown employment centers, the Texas Medical Center, the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. Combined, the two projects will extend the existing light rail system by an additional 12 miles and provide alternatives to congested Interstate 45 and U.S. Route 59.
With 18 new passenger stops along the way, the expanded light rail will take riders to Reliant Park, Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park, BBVA Compass Stadium, the Museum District, and the George R. Brown Convention Center/Discovery Green Park. The new light rail lines are expected to carry more than 58,000 riders on weekdays, including more than 13,000 new transit riders a day, by the year 2030.