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Rail Transit Threatened in OKC?

Rail Transit Threatened in OKC?

KSBI News

The new I-40 Crosstown is planning to be built right over what one group calls a vital railway.

OnTrac, a group in Oklahoma trying to save these tracks, says if destroyed, it would cut a vital link needed for rail expansion.

Coincidentally, this weekend, passenger rail is ten years old in Oklahoma.

"The last 10 years for the heartland flyer has been very exciting," said Brenda Perry, spokesperson for Oklahoma Department of Transportation. "The public has supported the train, our ridership has seen steady growth through the years."

But 10 years after the heartland flyer first travelled from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, it's still the only option for rail travel in Oklahoma. A group called OnTrac has been working on those options, but the Crosstown relocation threatens those plans by going right through a railway ontrac says is vital. They recently lost a court battle to save that railway, but they say they're making progress.

"Right now, there are discussions ongoing between OKC and ODOT concerning a viable solution proposed by OnTrac that would preserve both the railyard and the union station, but also the crosstown," OnTrac representative Mary Francis said.

OnTrac says their fight isn't over, they say by moving the highway just about 40 yards the problem is solved.

"The problem is they don't understand the public wants this there are polls the public really is anxious to have public transit and it starts with rail," Francis said.

Oklahoma City says the problem isn't that simple.

"There is currently not the funding to really look at any major public transit alternatives or expansions," Metro Transit assistant director Mark Pritchard said.

Pritchard also says that Metro Transit is looking into other forms of public transportation. By the way, there is a 10-year anniversary celebration for the Heartland Flyer Saturday at 7:30 a.m. at the Santa Fe station downtown.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Dorothy Woodard wrote:
We need to keep the railway. It isn't a matter of what size railway service we have today, there will come a day with OKC will need more. I have used the Heartland Flyer with my grandchildren, what a great weekend trip. I have also used it for a girls day of shopping at Gainesville. I also am a travel agent and we always have people wanting tickets on the Heartland Flyer. I would to see service expanded, but we have to fight to keep what we have at least.

Fri, June 19, 2009 @ 8:22 AM

2. Jim wrote:
Nostalgia for train travel is understandable for those of us who can remember. Endangering the safety of those traveling I-40 by delaying the project as well as adding unnecessarily to the cost is another matter. The crosstown should proceed as planned and without further interruption. I'm confident that we will be able to accomodate alignment and facilities necessary to serve future train travel

Fri, June 19, 2009 @ 1:41 PM

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