By Karen Daniels
At a recent Stafford Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, Mayor Leonard Scarcella gave an update on the status of the potential for commuter rail along US 90A, otherwise known as the Glidden Corridor. The Mayor is a board member of the Gulf Coast Rail District, and at their last meeting, (soon to be retiring) Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Congressman Al Green spoke on the topic. Mayor Scarcella said, “If Congressman Al Green was not pushing the US 90A commuter rail project it would literally be dead in the water.”
A second rail line is currently being added next to the current rail that runs down US 90A. According to Mayor Scarcella, Union Pacific is against a commuter rail being used on this track. With the widening of the Panama Canal, more cargo will be coming to the Port of Houston, and the Glidden Corridor will be a primary freight rail route. On average, 35 trains travel through per day. It is predicted that this number will increase to roughly 60 trains. It was not explained whether the commuter train would occupy one of the two rails or if a third rail line would need to be installed. Union Pacific has a 100 foot right-of-way down US 90A.
LaHood explained that “the only other potentially important force that can get Union Pacific’s attention is the people.” There are funds from the Obama administration that can assist, according to Mr. LaHood, but momentum is needed. Mayor Scarcella said, “The future of Stafford has a great deal to benefit if there is a commuter rail and a train station.” It would make travel to the medical center, Reliant Stadium, and downtown Houston easy and affordable.
After the Mayor concluded his update about the meeting, P&Z Commissioner William K. Bostic, Jr. asked if it would help to hold a public referendum on the matter. The Mayor replied that it would “take more than the people of Stafford” to lead the charge. It would take Missouri City (who held a prior referendum on this matter) and Sugar Land as well. In the meantime, Congressman Al Green “is doing everything in his power, but is fighting some awfully tough forces.”