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Mass transit ABCs


Sing along: analysis, budgets and commuter rail!

Clifton Adcock June 1st, 2011

Several metro-area municipalities are setting aside money in their upcoming fiscal year budgets to help pay for a study that could lead to commuter rail lines running to and from downtown Oklahoma City.

The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, a voluntary membership organization comprised of several local governments, has secured about $1 million in federal funding to perform a commuter corridor alternatives analysis study, said Doug Rex, director of transportation and planning services for ACOG.

To receive the federal funds, local governments must come up with 20 percent of the funds, which would bring the total available to around $1.25 million, Rex said.

“We’ve reached out to our member local governments who lie adjacent to the corridors that we will be looking at, and everybody seems to be on board,” Rex said. “We won’t know until they all go through their budget cycle and get final approval, but I think in principle they all thought it was a good idea. We’ll all just wait with crossed fingers.”

ACOG is looking at three commuter rail corridors identified in the 2005 fixed guideway study. Those three corridors have terminals in Edmond, Norman and the Tinker Air Force Base area, and each lead to downtown Oklahoma City, Rex said.

The alternatives analysis, which is overseen by the Federal Transit Administration, is part of a multi-step progression required for federal funding for infrastructure and capital, Rex said. The first step in the process was the fixed guideway study.

Other projects are subject to alternatives analysis and may be eligible for future federal funds. They are the MAPS 3 streetcar and a planned high-speed rail line from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, both of which would hook into an intermodal hub that will likely be located at Santa Fe Station, Rex said.

ACOG has solicited funding assistance for the commuter rail study from Norman, Moore, Oklahoma City, Edmond, Del City and Midwest City.

The study would determine current problems in the transportation corridors, identify solutions and, in the case of the commuter rail, describe the proposed location of stations, possible line routes and some rough cost estimates, Rex said.

If all of the city budgets include commuter rail study money, Rex expects it to begin in fall 2011 and be completed in 18 to 24 months.

Bob Kemper, board member of nonprofit group the Oklahoma Alliance for Public Transportation, addressed the City Council at its May 24 meeting, asking that money be set aside for the commuter rail study.

“We have to have an integrated transportation system, not just buses, not just rail, but bringing all these different modes together,” Kemper said.

“There is federal funding (for intermodal transport). This empowers us to go forward with the study that we need to do for the commuter rail program in Oklahoma City. It’s a very important first step we have to take.”

 
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