Highs and lows

METRO light rail expansion and sprawling Grand Parkway make Sierra Club's Best and Worst list

METRO light rail expansion and sprawling Grand Parkway make Sierra Club's Best and Worst list

Just in time for the holiday season, the Sierra Club, staunch in its belief that a car-centric society is a thing of the past, has compiled a naughty and nice list of the 50 Best & Worst Transportation Projects in the United States

Four Texas projects are featured on the grassroots environmental organization's list, and — unsurprising given the overall transportation trends of this sizable state — only one is given praise. 

The Sierra Club marks Houston's METRORail expansion as a "GO," indicating that it is "one of the most-traveled light rail systems in the United States per route mile" and applauding its under-construction and future lines.

 Ironically, the light rail project has come to a relative dead end after the unclearly-worded METRO referendum passed during November's election. 

Ironically, the light rail project has come to a relative dead end after the unclearly-worded METRO referendum passed during November's election. The North, East End and Southeast Lines, which are currently under construction, will be completed by 2014, while the fate of the Uptown and University Lines will be decided in the future.

Meanwhile, outside of town, the contentious Grand Parkway — specifically Segment E, a piece of the eventual 185-mile loop that is currently under construction — is on the organization's no-no list.

The Sierra Club notes, beyond the issue of encouraging "additional sprawl," the pricey project has severe environmental implications — among them, interrupting the Katy Prairie Wetland Habitat, which interferes with the migration patterns of waterfowl and "poses a flooding threat" to the Addicks Dam and surrounding areas. 

Other problematic transportation projects in Texas include the proposed Texas State Highway 45 Southwest, a 3.5-mile toll road to be laid just south of Austin and across the environmentally-sensitive Edwards Aquifer; and the Trinity River Parkway in Dallas, a proposed toll road that is expected to relieve traffic on I-30 and I-35 at the cost of $222 million per mile. 

News_Light rail_METRO_Main Street station
Houston's METRORail projects were lauded for a large ridership and an extensive route map.
Grand Parkway, construction, highway
Grand Parkway, a project split into 11 segments, has generated controversy and debate each step along the way.  West Houston Association
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