Thursday, August 20, 2009

Heeey!!! Houston Gets a FONSI

Houston gets into the final design phase for two of its five light rail lines and gets development codes changed to promote pedestrian access to the stations. Not bad for the Texas home of oil industry giants.
The council unanimously approved changes in development codes intended to promote dense, urban-style development along the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Main Street rail line and five planned extensions.
Apparently they could have done more. Now if only they can get those parking requirements out of the way and persuade land owners that their property isn't worth as much as they think it is. One of the issues I heard along the line a few years ago is that property owners with vacant land near stations believed their land was worth way more than it really was because of the line, thus stalling development around some midtown stations. An interesting dynamic without "zoning".

On a somewhat related note, the new starts process acronyms that come with the announcement today are numerous and might as well be their own Klingon language. If we were speaking in transit nerd, we would say: "The two Houston corridors passed their NEPA test after they received a FONSI on their FEIS and obtained a ROD from the FTA. This allows them to enter into FD en route to an FFGA." No wonder everyone is so confused over the process. It takes years just to learn all the acronyms.

NEPA: National Environmental Policy Act
FONSI: Finding of No Significant Impact
FEIS: Final Environmental Impact Statement
ROD: Record of Decision
FTA: Federal Transit Administration
FD: Final Design
FFGA: Full Funding Grant Agreement


Matt Fisher said...

At first, I didn't really get the point, then I found it was a reference to the Fonz. The FONSI acronym reminds me of Fonzie. Ha ha.

"Resistance is futile!" I use the LRT acronym all the time.

Meander said...

I've written a couple of posts on the METRO developments myself:

This is very good news for the new rail lines.

Even a rail booster like myself is shocked at just how crowded the Main Street line is, ALL OF THE TIME. Bodes well for the new lines.

njh said...

They've really jumped the shark.

Matt Fisher said...

Another thing: D'oh!... I mean, Woo Hoo!

Unknown said...

Matt, I loved the Borg reference!

NEPA nerd said...

Actually, you don't get a FONSI after an EIS. A FONSI concludes the NEPA process after publishing an Environmental Assessment, if no significant impacts are found.

Bob Davis said...

At the bureaucrats' cafeteria, alphabet soup is always on the menu.