Tomball-area voters to decide on $3.5 billion METRO bond Nov. 5

In its preliminary draft plan, METRO outlines improvements along the Hwy. 249 corridor that it says could reduce traffic congestion, including park and ride stations designed to incentivize more drivers along Hwy. 249 to carpool.

In its preliminary draft plan, METRO outlines improvements along the Hwy. 249 corridor that it says could reduce traffic congestion, including park and ride stations designed to incentivize more drivers along Hwy. 249 to carpool.

Voters in the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County service area will decide on a $3.5 billion bond Nov. 5, after the METRO board of directors called a bond election Aug. 13.

The bond program is guided by METRONext, a long-range plan that calls for improvements to the entire transit system. METRO Public Information Officer Monica Russo said the plan includes adding three facilities along Hwy. 249—a transit center near Willowbrook, and park and rides at Louetta and Boudreaux roads.

Tomball-area residents in unincorporated Harris County are within METRO’s service area, which contributes $0.01 of sales tax to fund METRO services. However, the city of Tomball is outside METRO’s area.

If approved, the bond will allow the agency to borrow up to $3.5 billion over the next 20 years.

Board members said the bonds will not require a tax increase and are necessary to invest in mobility as the region anticipates growing to more than 10 million residents by 2040.

METRONext calls for expanded park and rides, upgraded transit centers, enhanced two-way high-occupancy vehicle lanes, 16 miles of new light rail, 75 miles of new METRORapid bus transit and 290 miles of enhanced bus service corridors.

“If you drive, the goal of the plan is to take more cars off the road,” Russo said. “If you already use public transit, the plan is designed to offer new service and travel options.”

Russo said if voters do not pass the bond, METRO’s board of directors would determine what projects could potentially be cut from the agency’s plans at a future date.

Board member Sanjay Ramabhadran said if all of the envisioned projects get underway, METRO’s bonds will help leverage federal grants and other sources to reach up to $11.5 billion in total investments.
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