Part pep rally, part press conference
The half-mile stretch of Main Street between Naylor Street and Commerce Street may seem negligible, but its year-and-a-half-long closure has affected access to the University of Houston Downtown as well as the bottom line of small businesses north of the METRORail North Line construction site.
But on Monday morning, the transit authority officially reopened the nearly 100-year-old bridge to automobile traffic, celebrating the early construction delivery at an event that was part pep rally, part press conference.
"It feels like we're in New York City!" said METRO board chairman Gilbert Garcia.
"It feels like we're in New York City!" said METRO board chairman Gilbert Garcia, who thanked all of the parties who have been involved since New Years Day 2004, when the light rail first began operating the Downtown line.
Bill Flores, president of University of Houston Downtown and frequent METRORail passenger, said that the bridge is a metaphor as much as a real bridge — one that will improve access for students and nearby residents as well as allow area businesses to thrive.
"The expanded system is really becoming a reality," said Chief Tom Lambert, interim president and CEO of METRO, who shared a progress report: The current projects are 70 percent complete, at 64 percent along the East End Line, at 65 percent along the Southeast Line and the North Line — now 75 percent complete and "dramatically moving forward" — will be fully operational in 2014.