Comment of the Day: “California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco”


I’m behind on posting Comments of the Day, and the first to be sprung from the backlog is this, from johnburger2013, giving yet another account of political leaders defeating the public will to pursue expensive and irresponsible projects that do not and cannot live up to the promises made to justify them. I wonder if there is a category of informed people who simultaneously deride the motivation for the Brexit vote, and yet condemn debacles like the California high-speed rail project. The issue, as it usually is, is trust.

Here is johnburger2013’s Comment of the Day (that day being almost a weeks ago) on the post, California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco:

Here in Houston, there is a constant litany of ideas about what to do with the Astrodome, it being one of the man-made wonders of the world (until the King Dome left it in the dust). The Dome was moth-balled when Reliant Stadium (now NRG Stadium) was built about 11 years ago, after the Astros got their own facility in Downtown Houston (thank you, taxpayers), and the Dynamo got their own facility (thank you, taxpayers), and the Houston Texans got NRG Stadium (again, thank you, taxpayers). The Rockets never played there, but they have a new stadium, too (thank you a fourth time, taxpayers), so they are not to blame. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo doesn’t use the facility either, because they use NRG for their events (the parking stinks, though, as big-ass crowds of people have to take limited numbers of buses and light rail [which only goes to downtown, thank you a fifth time, taxpayers] to outlying parking venues).

So, the Dome just sits there, collecting dust but is right smack dab in the middle of the Reliant/NRG complex, looking quite decrepit and sad, dreaming of its former glory. The inside of the dome suffered some catastrophic structural failures as a result of the Hurricane Katrina, and Rita evacuee debacles, but that is another story, especially after the county sold most of the seats and other niceties.

The County Judge (which is essentially the mayor’s office for Harris County) has been droning on about plans to update, modernize, refurbish, reuse, remodel, repurpose, the facility for as long as I can remember. A 2014 referendum on the Dome’s future plans failed by some huge margin – something like 69% against the plans, which would have cost a minimum of $250,000,000, considering the problems associated with addressing the the internal structural and contamination problems let alone the bill to recreate the place into a multiple use convention center/family fun place. Apparently, there are asbestos issues and other things that are required just to bring the building up to code.

Oh, but the intrepid County Judge just will not take no for an answer. Just last week, he proposed a new plan to convert the place into an underground parking facility, which would entail raising the Astrodome’s floor to create an underground two level parking garage that would hold 1,400 spaces (that’s nice).

Ed Emmett (the County Judge) said creating a large open space would allow the Texans and Livestock Show and Rodeo to again use the Astrodome for special events, From there, Emmett said it would be up to the private sector to come up with an idea and money to turn the Dome into something else. Cool, eh?

The County Judge said the rest of the plan calls for gutting the inside and leaving the iconic dome intact. “At that point you’ve got 9 acres of air-conditioned, covered space that a lot of groups would like to use,” he said. Emmett asked, “How many of the annual festivals and gatherings that we have in this community would love to schedule and know that they’re not going to be impacted by weather?” I can answer that: None. The citizens voted and the Dome lost.

While the costs associated with this new gem are not publicly available, it is supposed to be voted on by the commissioner’s court (not the voters, though) in the near future. Best not to present to the citizens because they just don’t know what is best for them.

5 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco”

  1. Yep, 250 million dollars is a little steep for Houston residents. This pig in a poke will probably have to be knocked down. Too bad because baseball games in an open air stadium are a losing proposition in the summer in Houston. We can get away with an open air stadium in California but not in Texas.

  2. My prayer tonight is that the next big lottery jackpot winner will donate $100 million or so to kick-start a refurbishment and preservation fund for the Astrodome.

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