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Oklahoma is on track for rail service

Oklahoma is on track for rail service

This article first appeared in the Oklahoman.

Now, the big question: Will Oklahoma get up to speed?

I see where we may be involved in high-speed rail service some day. At least, that is the theory. Can that really happen?

— Bill, Moore

We may know soon, Bill. State leaders think so, and they want to get on track for a future run at it.

Last week, Oklahoma officials said they are ready to apply for federal stimulus funds in hopes of becoming part of a high-speed passenger rail corridor. The president announced $8 billion of the $787 billion economic stimulus package was being made available to the rail plan nationwide.

Terri Angier of the state Transportation Department said state officials had been preparing for that and are "totally positioned and ready to apply for that process.”

If you remember, Oklahoma was designated as a high-speed corridor in 2000. Now, if the state can just get the funding. State officials note this could lead to thousands of jobs in construction and in permanent work, and it also would open travel opportunities.

A story by The Oklahoman Washington Bureau reporter Chris Casteel last Friday said the south-central corridor, identified as one of 10 for potential high-speed rail projects, would include Oklahoma City and Tulsa. It also would take in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth and Little Rock.

The existing rail lines will have to be studied, of course. Some lines may need repairs or would be shared with current freight companies. Don’t expect to see a blur on the rails anytime real soon.

But the Federal Railroad Administration says the grants could be distributed by late summer. If that happens, movement can begin.

By the way...

If you missed the message, Oklahoma City’s Sign Sweep Task Force is commemorating Earth Week by removing and disposing of illegally placed signs located along city right-of-ways, medians and utility poles.

City officials said dozens of two-person crews will sweep city streets in a concentrated effort to rid the city of litter-on-a-stick. Hard-to-remove signs and banners will be tagged with green stickers and removed at a later date. Officials said the city’s Action Center receives more than 1,000 sign complaints each year. The fine for repeat offenders is $500. For more information about sign enforcement, call 297-2365.

Enjoy your week and drive safely.

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