With METRO's easternmost line nearing completion, the East End is looking toward more alternative transit options.
Foremost in its sights? A streetcar.
"Part of our goal is to eliminate the number of cars that are being used for short trips in this neighborhood," Diane Schenke, president of the Greater East End District, tells CultureMap.
Schenke said that a streetcar line to supplement the light rail would help to solve the "last mile" problem, inevitable once METRO's construction is complete. It would ease the workday commutes of area residents, many of whom wouldn't walk all the way to the nearest station wearing business attire during Houston's hot and humid months. Once on the METRO line, though, they would be connected to downtown and the Texas Medical Center, with future expansions on the way.
Schenke says that streetcars would solve the "last mile" problem, inevitable once light rail construction is complete.
But a streetcar would also present another way for EaDo residents to enjoy their neighborhood, transporting families to its jewels — to dinner at the Original Ninfa's, to Houston Dynamo games at the BBVA Compass Stadium — and facilitating nearby errands.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the line could use tracks that still exist along stretches of Commerce Street, with "the possibility of excavating a long-filled tunnel at Preston and Dowling for a low-cost underpass beneath a freight rail line." Schenke tells CultureMap that the line would be developed in two phases, considering where the centers of population are now and where the growth will be in the future.
The Greater East End District has enlisted the expertise of HDR, Inc. in producing an alternative analysis for a streetcar line. The study will reveal potential benefits and possible routes.
A steering committee will receive those results in mid-October, then mix and match them for presentation to the public in early November. In the meantime, find more information about the East End's streetcar initiative here and the project timeline here.