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East End residents upset over proposed METRO overpass

METRO is planning to build the bridge just for its buses to get over the railroad tracks in the community.

HOUSTON — A proposed METRO overpass is upsetting residents in the East End area.

They’re not happy that METRO is planning to build a large bridge just for its buses to get over the railroad tracks. Residents said they don't want their green medians and trees destroyed and feel this would reduce the walkability of the area. 

"We don’t want it," said concerned resident Audrey Colombe. "It looks like a very bad idea."

The overpass would stretch from McKinney Street to Brady Street. The point is for the buses to not get stopped by trains, but it's all part of a bigger project called the METRORapid University Corridor Project.

"It's a bus rapid transit technology, a bus that basically operates in the dedicated lane and operates in all the benefits of rail without the cost," said Tracy Jackson the Deputy Communication chief of Metro.

The goal is to connect the city from Westchase Park & Ride to the Tidwell Transit Center

The proposed bridge would just be a portion of that project, but residents feel like METRO is forgetting about a big portion of the community.

"In some ways, yes, we feel like we have been ignored," said Danielle Laperrie, The President of Eastwood Civic Association.

They said METRO didn’t consider the Hispanic population that lives in the neighborhood and only sent out the information pamphlets in English.

"Sixty-two percent speak Spanish at home," said Laperrie. "And to have communication only in English is unfair to this neighborhood and it's not going to get the word out of the project."

METRO claims it sent out mailers in four different languages but online, the latest information could only be found in English.

"If this was an issue, then we're always looking for opportunities to improve how we do outreach with the community," said Jackson. "And so if we need to do a better job of communicating in multiple languages, of all the languages need to be on one flyer as opposed to one language per flyer, these are the type of adjustments that METRO is going to make."

For those residents who did understand the mailers and ride the bus, they wonder if this “rapid bus lane” would even be worth it.

"I ride the bus all the time," said Colombe. "It's hardly ever full. It seems to me they would try an express bus to begin to see if it's even a viable avenue of ridership. They haven’t done that."

METRO said its board will vote on Thursday to move forward with this project. Residents are hoping to delay this vote.

An online petition has been created to change the route or create an underpass. 

You can find more information on this project here. 

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