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Oklahoma begins high-speed rail effort

Oklahoma begins high-speed rail effort

Journal Record

July 14, 2009

TULSA – Oklahoma transportation officials have taken an initial step to apply for high-speed rail funding that could return passenger service to Tulsa.

Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, told the Tulsa World’s Washington bureau that top speeds between Tulsa and Oklahoma City would be more than 150 mph, with an average speed of more than 110 mph.

Top speeds for the Heartland Flyer, which provides service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, would be 90 mph, with an average of more than 60 mph. The Heartland Flyer now can travel only up to 79 mph, but the speed is lower on much of that route.

A cost estimate for the project, which would include improvements from Tulsa to the Texas state line, has been put at just under $2 billion.

Angier said Oklahoma applied for funding that does not require a state match. A formal application is not due until Aug. 24.

The Transportation Department’s preliminary application was filed in response to President Barack Obama’s push for high-speed train service. Tulsa and Oklahoma City are part of one of the high-speed rail corridors.

The South Central Corridor also includes Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Texas, San Antonio and Little Rock, Ark.

As part of a vision for world-class passenger rail service, the Obama administration identified $13 billion to get the process started, with $8 billion in the stimulus package and an additional $5 billion provided over the next five years.

Angier said the state’s application will compare well with those from other states. However, the eventual outcome could depend on the feedback the state receives from federal officials and whether they put any restrictions on the funding.

Work could begin as early as 2010 and is expected to take at least six years to complete.           

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