Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposed Streetcar Route Submitted to OKC Council

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposed Streetcar Route Submitted to OKC Council

Article excerpt

The first four miles of a streetcar system through downtown Oklahoma City was submitted for City Council members' consideration Tuesday.

The proposed spine of the streetcar route, to be funded with a temporary sales tax under MAPS 3, connects the Midtown district slightly northwest of downtown to the Bricktown entertainment district to the southeast. The plan also identifies potential extensions for a total of five to six miles, depending on other factors and costs as the project develops, officials said.

The $130 million project is part of a larger $777 million MAPS 3 package of infrastructure developments passed by city voters in 2009. Other projects include a 70-acre park and downtown convention center in the core of the city, as well as wellness centers and trails in other areas.

The transit portion of MAPS 3 also allows for the possibility of a downtown transit hub to link the streetcar with other commuter rail and bus systems. City officials are seeking federal transportation money for commuter rail to expand the reach of the transportation system, although they warned such additional development would be many years away.

A typical modern streetcar usually uses a fixed, electric-rail system at street level, shares a lane with other vehicles and operates in high-pedestrian areas to link riders with major activity centers. Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority officials said that unlike older trolley systems, modern streetcar technology allows it to operate quietly, smoothly and efficiently in harmony with other vehicles.

The route identified Tuesday is the product of months of public input and committee review of alternate possibilities. MAPS Program Manager Eric Wenger said a consultant will likely be hired this summer for additional planning and engineering analysis before the route is finalized. …

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