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Midwest City Council takes step toward passenger rail

Midwest City Council takes step toward passenger rail

 

By Jeff Massie, staff writer
The Sun

Consider it the first spike in what could be a long track leading to passenger rail service for central Oklahoma.

After multiple meetings regarding situation assessments and possible outcomes, the Midwest City Council approved a measure on Tuesday to hire a consultant regarding the railway.

But it’s not quite that simple.

In the upcoming weeks, similar measures will go to a council vote in other centrally located cities like Del City, Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman. The various communities have all expressed interest in a local train network, and the cost of the consultant would be split between the cities.

Midwest City agreed on Tuesday to commit to $3,452.25 of the $50,000 cost for the consultant. The price paid by each city is determined by population.

If approved and funded by all the cities involved, the consultant could then determine a course of action in order to apply for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grant. The deadline for TIGER grant applications is Sept. 15.

The exciting thing for Midwest City, according to city attorney Katherine Bolles, is that it “seems universally understood” that Midwest City will be the first city to receive passenger rail service of the central Oklahoma cities. The reason for this is because Midwest City already has much of the infrastructure in place to get passenger rail service up and running quickly.

It’s not known yet what the other cities will do as far as committing to the funding of the consultant. Bolles said that if everybody signs on and an application is submitted, it could take up to a year to know if central Oklahoma is receiving grant funds or not.

Should the grants ultimately be declined, Bolles said that the issue is of enough importance to the city that it would continue to look at other opportunities to make a rail link between Midwest City and downtown Oklahoma City operational.

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