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Edmond continues to court Amtrak

Edmond continues to court Amtrak

The Edmond Sun

James Coburn

EDMOND March 06, 2009 11:35 pm

City Councilman Wayne Page and representatives from Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer traveled by train to Fort Worth recently on a fact-finding mission for the City of Edmond.

The City Council is united in its attempt to make Edmond a stopping point for the Heartland Flyer on its possible commuter journey north through Kansas, Page said.

“We’ve got the momentum going now because of the federal money that’s going for rail traffic,” Page said.

Leaders of local, state and federal government have been working with the Northern Flyer Alliance to bring commuter rail between Guthrie, Edmond, Oklahoma City and Norman. The Northern Flyer Alliance wants to extend passenger rail from Fort Worth and Oklahoma City to Wichita. From Wichita, passengers could travel to Chicago and other Amtrak linkage points.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has already stated its support of the project.

Currently, the Heartland Flyer has two trains running each day between Oklahoma City and Ft. Worth, making additional stops in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley and Gainesville.

The Fort Worth route to Oklahoma City has more than 8,000 passengers a month. Passengers and revenue increased 30 percent from 2007 to 2008.

“ACOG (the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments) has been trying to facilitate helping to get funds for this,” Page said. “They know that once we get (commuter) rail traffic up here, we’ll start talking about the possibility of light rail or commuter rail into Oklahoma City.”

From the Fort Worth intermodal station, they took the Trinity Rail Express to the Dallas station to view the light rail system.
“The one very apparent need, as expressed by all we encountered, was the ‘connection’ to a bus system and ample parking, that delivered ‘on-time’ service,” Page said.

How the Heartland Flyer would benefit Edmond is two-fold, said Cathy Williams-White, director of the City of Edmond Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“That is an opportunity for Kansas and Texas travelers to debark and enjoy themselves in Edmond, bringing their money here and spending it,” she said. “It would also be advantageous for commuter issues down the line.”

The proposed Pedestrian Bridge would be a tool for developing commerce in Edmond by spanning Edmond Road just east of the railroad tracks, White said.

An Edmond Centennial project, the City Council already has approved a resolution to secure funds for the construction. The bridge is eligible for $400,000 worth of Surface Transportation Program Enhancement federal funds administered by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. However, its future remains uncertain until a bidding process results in a legal contract.

The Benham Company bridge design would cost a little more than $1 million, which also includes a $485,000 new parking lot with 142 spaces on the south side of West Edmond Road just west of Broadway. The cost of the bridge itself is $565,500.

“When you look at events that go on downtown, the Festival Market Place, LibertyFest, the Taste of Edmond, there is a need to provide a safe and attractive way to move people across the street,” White said.

Page said the city needs to have a turn-around system for the trolley to drop people off at the proposed Edmond train station. Also, the city’s bus, which travels from Edmond to Oklahoma City, would make a stop at the station.

The City Council will have a public transit study workshop from 8-10 a.m. Friday at the City Council Chamber. Discussion will focus on how the city’s trolley system would be useful in facilitating Amtrak passengers leaving the train station to visit the University of Central Oklahoma and other vantage points.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 114.

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