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Letters to the Editor
 

MAPS streetcar steps forward


Jeff Bezdek April 13th, 2011

On April 5, our city took a major step forward in developing a permanent solution for our mass transit problems. City Council members accepted the key strategic route alignment for the MAPS 3 light rail streetcar.

The “transit spine” accepted provides a key corridor for the MAPS 3 streetcar system, almost ensuring immediate ridership success while enabling the easy future expansion into the neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

The Robinson (northbound), Broadway Avenue (southbound) rail corridor will immediately connect Bricktown to Midtown, while establishing the opportunity for easy future expansion into the Plaza District, Oklahoma City University, the Asian District, Paseo, state Capitol, and/or the Oklahoma River/ Capitol Hill.

Council members also accepted recommendations for protecting future expansion opportunities for the westside of downtown along Fourth and Walker. The corridor may be part of a secondary line directly connecting the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to the streetcar system and existing bus transfer center at Fourth and Hudson. The protected corridor will also allow for future direct connection to City Hall, Civic Center, the OKC Museum of Art, new MAPS for Kids elementary school and the burgeoning Film Row district.

Determining the spine and western alignment further positions our city to pursue federal matching funds. The voter referendum and subsequent penny sales tax affirm our commitment to the Federal Transit Administration. The investment voters made in MAPS enables the first legitimate opportunity to pursue bringing tax dollars back into this community specifically for rail transit expansion.

The streetcar is on the “fast track” because the ongoing Project 180 offers an extraordinary opportunity. With proper integration, we can save millions of taxpayer dollars and extend the streetcar system further. The expedient process to determine the first phase of the route has come through the most transparent of public processes.

Input and support from our city leadership and the greater citizenry has enabled the MAPS 3 transit subcommittee to make our recommendations. In the coming months, we will be making a second set of recommendations that will connect the “system spine” to the planned intermodal hub and MAPS 3 convention center.

The intermodal hub will enable direct connections of the streetcar to future planned regional transit extending to the Adventure District, Midwest City, Del City, Edmond, Moore, Norman and Yukon.

As we move forward, our committee is dedicated to providing the most effective permanent start to reestablishing rail connectivity for our citizens. We pledge to use tax money effectively to create the most stateof-the-art modern streetcar system in the United States. We appreciate your input and support. An exciting future awaits us.

—Jeff M. Bezdek
Oklahoma City

Bezdek is a member of the MAPS 3 transit subcommittee and education director for the Modern Transit Project.

 
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