Archive for the 'campaign' Category

It’s time to be proactive about getting a pedestrian streetscape on Richmond Ave.

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

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We were thrilled to see METRO formally “break ground” on the North and Southeast Light Rail Lines in July. That means that work is underway on three of the five new lines planned for the expanded light rail system.  We’re looking forward to the day that construction begins on the University Line, but we understand that won’t happen for some time. METRO estimates that the University Line is at least a year behind the other lines.  In the meantime, METRO is planning the design of the line, and we’re thinking and talking about the things that will make a difference in how well light rail serves our community. 

For the coming light rail line to be a true asset to our neighborhoods, the streets leading to the transit stations must accommodate pedestrians more safely and comfortably than is typical for Houston streets outside downtown. If enacted, the proposed transit corridor ordinance (aka the Urban Corridor ordinance, which we hope to see on the City Council agenda for approval soon), would foster the evolution toward a more pedestrian-friendly environment as redevelopment occurs along the light rail corridors. That will take time. We believe that there is a near-term opportunity to achieve a better pedestrian environment along the University Line on lower Richmond Ave

Virtually all of the public right-of-way on Richmond Ave. from Spur 527 to Kirby Dr. is only 80 feet wide. When METRO builds the University Line, we anticipate that they will also need to rebuild the sidewalks along that stretch of Richmond. What better time to create a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape than when the rail line is being built? However, the right-of-way constraints do present challenges. 

RichmondRail has a solution: allocate the 80-foot right-of-way such that the street will safely and comfortably accommodate not only trains and cars, but also pedestrians. Allowing 10 feet for traffic lanes (2 in each direction) and a 23-ft trackway for the trains would leave 8 1/2 feet on each side — sufficient for 6-ft wide unobstructed sidewalks plus Richmond streetscapespace for street trees.  RichmondRail.org has put together a resolution outlining this and other proposals. In addition to the recommended right-of-way allocation for rail, cars and pedestrians, the resolution proposes specific provisions for pedestrian crosswalks, the placement of surface infrastructure and trees, the burying of utility lines and other important improvements. Take a look at our Resolution of support for a pedestrian streetscape on Richmond Avenue for more about our proposals and a streetscape cross-section. An important note — METRO appears to be trying to keep property takings to a minimum, with most takings on Richmond expected to be around the planned transit stations. Our recommendations focus on the streetscape on Richmond between transit stations, and we are not proposing any additional property takings

Both METRO and the City must agree to them for our proposals to become reality.  We know that there are hurdles — recently updated City standards call for 12-ft traffic lanes and frown on mid-block crosswalks; laying grass on the trackway isn’t likely to be approved without an agreement in place to maintain it; and burying utility wires will require an investment beyond what anyone has currently planned.  But the new light rail line and the the resulting streetscape will become an integral part of our community, one that will be in place for decades to come.  It’s critical that we invest in a plan that will enhance the livability of our neighborhoods and make the most of the investment in transit.  

A number of organizations and institutions along lower Richmond have signed on in support of the RichmondRail resolution, and we are continuing to meet with civic associations and others to share our ideas.  We’d love to hear from community organizations who are interested in learning more about our proposals –  contact us.

RichmondRail adopts resolution of support for transportation alternatives

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

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Walkable neighborhoods along Houston’s transit corridors, and streets that provide safe access for pedestrians, as well as people on bicycles, will be crucial to the success of our entire light rail system. That’s why the RichmondRail.org steering committee voted to adopt the Citizens’ Transportation Coalition resolution of support for transportation alternatives. Included is a call that “all transportation agencies must invest in infrastructure to provide excellent access to neighborhoods, jobs, and other destinations using all travel modes, including walking, biking, and mass transit.” (read the full CTC resolution)

Richmond Avenue Workshop Saturday Jan 19

Monday, January 14th, 2008

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RichmondRail.org is teaming up with other stakeholder organizations and institutions in our neighborhood to host a Richmond Avenue Workshop. This will be a highly interactive two hours designed to help define neighborhood-friendly rail — we’ll pose key questions, learn how others have addressed similar concerns and discuss ideas specific to Richmond. The workshop will be held 10 am to noon, Saturday January 19th at the University of St. Thomas Crooker Center.  For more details click here.

Please plan to join us!

RichmondRail GPAC to announce candidate endorsements!

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

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We at RichmondRail.org are pleased to share this invitation from the RichmondRail Political Action Committee (RRail GPAC), a separate organization that shares our vision for rail on Richmond.

RRail GPAC candidate <a href='http://092.me'><a href='http://092.me'>question</a></a>naire” align=”right”></a>The RichmondRail political action committee (GPAC) asked every Houston City Council <a href=candidate point blank: “Do you support Rail on Richmond from Main to Cummins?” This Tuesday evening we will all find out who said yes!

The RRail GPAC will announce endorsements in 11 out of 15 races for Houston City Council and Controller. Candidates were asked the following questions (pdf):

  • Do you support Rail on Richmond from Main to Cummins?
  • Will you vote to approve the franchise agreements necessary to allow for the construction of rail on Richmond from Main to Cummins?
  • Will you work for, and vote to fund, such improvements along Richmond Avenue in order to make our new light rail system truly neighborhood and pedestrian friendly?
  • Will you partner with Metro and the Community to develop meaningful programs to mitigate the negative impacts of the light rail projects?

Please plan to join us at Maria Selma Restaurant on Tuesday, October 16, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm as we come together to find out which candidates support our issue and will work hard on our behalf. Enjoy a festive beverage, meet the candidates, and stay for dinner!

We want to show the candidates that we value their support, and we have also invited the media. Your presence will help us make an impact!

What: RichmondRail GPAC announces candidate endorsements
Where: Maria Selma, 1619 Richmond Ave. west of Mandell, 77006, (713) 528-4920
When: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 5:30 pm sharp!

Please note: Election season is busy and we will only have candidates in attendance for 30-45 minutes. Plan to arrive no later than 5:45 pm if you don’t want to miss them!

Bringing it to the bottom line!

Monday, March 19th, 2007

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RichmondRail supporters are amazing!

Last Tuesday, more than 80 rail supporters dined at Maria Selma’s Mexican Restaurant (review) in support of rail on Richmond! Your support was so overwhelming that we not only filled the restaurant inside, but also spilled out to fill the new palapa outside, too. Thank you, all, for our best turnout ever!

Our thanks also go out to radio stations KTRH and KUHF (story) who came out to cover our event and tell our stories!

As we return each week on Tuesday — or any day — to local spots like Maria Selma, Pepino’s, El Pueblito, Blue Fish House and others, we reinforce our mutual relationships with the owners. With our help, they are learning more about rail transit, and they know that we will be there for them through construction and beyond!

If our positive approach makes sense to you, consider joining us for an upcoming Tuesday Night Out:

  • Tuesday, March 27: Hobbit Cafe, 2243 Richmond near Greenbriar
  • Tuesday, April 3: Ninfa’s, 3601 Kirby Drive at Richmond
  • Tuesday, April 10: Harlow’s, 3839 Weslayan St. off Richmond

Join us for Tuesday Nights Out!

Monday, March 12th, 2007

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Have you heard? Richmond Rail supporters put our money where our mouths are!

Every Tuesday for five months — 22 Tuesdays and counting — we are demonstrating our community support for Richmond Avenue businesses and for light rail on Richmond.

This Tuesday, lots of us will be at Maria Selma Mexican Restaurant — dining in groups and individually — to let owner Rene Hidalgo know that we want rail on Richmond in front of his restaurant and we support him, too. Here’s why:

The many wonderful restaurants on lower Richmond Avenue play a big part in making Neartown and Upper Kirby vital places to live and work. Studies show that restaurants are often the first businesses to benefit when rail service begins — rail transit brings hungry customers! But many Richmond restaurant owners are fearful of the disruption created during rail construction.

It’s in our interest to ensure these businesses survive and thrive. Tuesday Nights Out are our way of showing Richmond business owners that RichmondRail supporters are their customers today and will continue to support them throughout construction. When we show up as a group of customers sporting green and white RichmondRail buttons and t-shirts, it sends a powerful message that we support rail and we support their businesses. And we estimate that we have spent more than $10,000 in these restaurants to date, which doesn’t hurt either!

So this Tuesday, consider joining us… for dinner and for rail:

What: Tuesday Nights Out for RichmondRail
When: Tuesday, March 13 between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Where: Maria Selma Mexican Restaurant, 1619 Richmond Ave. near Mandell, 77006 (map)

And if our positive approach makes sense to you, consider signing our petition of support for rail on Richmond!

Neartown neighbors know a good thing

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

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METRO rendering of rail on Richmond at Montrose

Our thanks to everyone who spent Saturday morning getting the word out in Neartown! Unsurprisingly, everyone we talked with in Castle Court and Richwood Place prefers rail on Richmond to Culberson’s elevated backyard option!

rendering of Culberson's backyard rail option
Given a choice between Culberson’s elevated structure that carries trains past without stopping, or METRO’s “Richmond-Cummins” option which will put stations on Richmond to give us easy access to our jobs, homes, schools, shops, museums, and restaurants, the choice is clear.

Our new friends at the dog park get it, too — even our four-legged friends like Frankie! Building rail where the people are just makes more sense.
Frankie wants rail on Richmond
But many in our neighborhoods are still unaware of the options. You can help! Talk to your friends and neighbors. Talk about what we want our neighborhood to be like in the future. And talk about rail on Richmond!

Richwood Place endorses Richmond-Cummins!

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

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On February 5th, the Richwood Place Civic Assocation formally endorsed METRO’s “Cummins” alignment, becoming the fourth civic organization on Richmond between Shepherd and Main to do so:

“We believe that rail on Richmond Avenue through our neighborhood offers the most benefit to the greatest number of residents and stakeholders within Richwood Place.

The Cummins option best supports our desire for neighborhood friendly rail, maximizes ridership and appears to be the most cost effective solution.

On the contrary, Richwood Place Civic Association finds the Montrose/US 59 option to be the total antithesis to neighborhood friendly rail and as a result, vehemently opposes this selection. An elevated rail structure along US-59 would destroy our historic neighborhood through property condemnation as well as destroying the quality of life for the remaining properties.”

Given that Richwood Place touches both Richmond and US-59, any of METRO’s three final alignment options will affect them. It means something that Richwood Place neighbors decided rail on Richmond will work better for them!
Neartown Association logo
And Richwood Place is not alone. The Neartown Association, which spans the corridor from Shepherd to Spur 527, has also endorsed the “Cummins” option. Five Neartown member organizations have officially joined their support: First Montrose Commons, Roseland Estates, Castle Court, Lancaster Place, and the Museum Area Municipal Association (MAMA). And there is further support for Richmond from Friends of Mandell Park, the Museum District Business Alliance (MDBA), and the Boulevard Oaks Civic Association (BOCA). Can you say overwhelming support for rail on Richmond?

Neartown area Richmond supporters

Have you signed our petition yet?

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

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Support for rail on Richmond just keeps growing! In addition to all of the organizations that have endorsed Richmond, more than 2,700 people have signed our petition of support. Are you one of them?

Some people claim that “no one wants rail on Richmond,” but we know that’s not true! This petition is our best way to prove — to our elected officials, the media, and METRO — that we really DO want rail on Richmond. So if you have not done so, please sign our petition today! And if you want to keep in touch with us, be sure to supply your email address.

Supporters workshop this Saturday

Monday, January 1st, 2007

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We still have a lot of work to do because METRO’s numbers don’t tell the whole story. Just identifying the best alignment won’t get it built. Even now, some rail opponents are pushing for Culberson’s option, and others are working to kill this line entirely. The no-build option remains a real threat.

RichmondRail.org is committed to getting the University line built where the people are, on Richmond (not on the edge of US-59). We have until March 2007 — when METRO circulates the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public comment — to cement public support for this line, and we need your help to do it.

This Saturday, January 6, we will host an educational workshop for Richmond Rail supporters. We are bringing in experts to help us understand the facts behind the options and make us better advocates. We will also lay out our next steps:

  • David Crossley of the Gulf Coast Institute will show us where the people are with job and housing demographics in the corridor
  • Christof Spieler of the Citizens’ Transportation Coalition will compare how METRO’s three remaining options affect Neartown, Greenway Plaza, Uptown, and Gulfton
  • Doug Childers, our chair, will outline next steps and upcoming issues for RichmondRail.org

This 90-minute session is intended to present critical information and answer many of your questions. We will also distribute our free “We want rail on Richmond” buttons and bumper magnets. We hope you will join us! Please refer to your email for the location and time. Put it on your calendar now!