As many students have already noticed, construction on the Metro Light Rail have ground to a halt.
UH and Metro are negotiating over about 4.5 acres of UH parking lot on the corner of Scott Street and Wheeler, which Metro says it needs for construction of the rail and a platform. UH spokesperson Richard Bonnin said in a statement that “this will have a significant impact on the university.”
UH has declined to comment further on why they need the land, saying that “it would be inappropriate to discuss any further details while the negotiations are taking place.” While it’s possible there’s more to the story than a few parking spaces, we won’t know until the University releases more information. Until then, the bottom line is that the negotiations could potentially push back the completion date on the rail.
This is not okay. All overwrought construction complaints aside, the rail would be a huge boon to students, both those who live on campus and those who could ride it in rather than brave Houston’s morning traffic.
No one should be surprised by UH’s high commuter rate; UH is surrounded on two sides by the third ward, and freeways hem in the other two, making it difficult to walk or ride a bike to off-campus destinations. The rail would fix this, giving on-campus students a way to the food and entertainment they can’t find at UH, and the loss of the parking in the area may even be made up for by the students who choose to ride the rail rather than drive.
Yes, Metro should have worked this out before starting the construction project, but unless the two parties can come to an agreement soon, UH should either explain to its students why the parking spaces are so important, or it should sell the land to Metro so construction can finally be completed.