Houston's Light Rail Plans via Christof Spieler
I know there is a lot of consternation in Houston from certain congressional parties that if they had it their way would never have let the city build its first line. But I'm sure glad they did because it's allowed them so much political support to push forward with the system they are installing now. While even that had its fits and starts as well as issues with general managers and vehicle orders, I firmly believe that this will be the most European system in the United States when completed.
North Corridor Construction
Unlike any other LRT system in the United States, they eschewed existing freight rights of way and made the conscious decision to run in the major corridors with dedicated guideways. This is going to bring unprecedented mobility to the newly served areas as well as perhaps a few issues as well.
While many say that Houston has no zoning, what it really means is that Houston has no use restrictions. Unless your neighborhood has existing deed restrictions, anything is fair game as long as it pencils in your pro-forma. Making that pro-forma more difficult is all of the setback and parking regulations that are required from the city. It costs a lot of money and changes development dynamics but the lack of use restrictions allow development such as the housing below. Townhouses on small lots that would never have been allowed in any other single family neighborhood.
Southwest Corridor in East Downtown (EDO)
This also raises the issue of affordable housing. While the lack of building restrictions keeps prices fairly low, extremely low in fact when compared to SF or NYC, it doesn't mean that neighborhoods won't see some drastic changes coming to their neighborhoods.
If you would like to see a few more of the images from the trip, check out my Flickr page