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Alternate route

After a recent denial for a federal grant, officials look to other subsidies for the city’s intermodal transit hub.

Clifton Adcock January 31st, 2012

Oklahoma City officials are looking for other ways to fund improvements to the city’s planned intermodal transit hub after failing to win a federal grant.

The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board voted Jan. 26 to recommend the City Council approve purchase of the Santa Fe Train Depot to serve as a convergence for several modes of transportation in the city, including car, rail, bicycle and possibly bus.

The city already set aside $10 million of the $127 million in MAPS 3 streetcar funding to pay for the acquisition and streetcar-related improvements to the station. 

But a setback came in late December, when the city learned its application was denied for $17 million from a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) III grant. That money was to constitute the majority of $26 million in funding for the city’s planned intermodal transportation hub.

right, An artist's rendering of the hub

An earlier study named the historic rail station at 100 S. E.K. Gaylord as the best location for that hub for a variety of transportation modes, making it, as one consultant on the project said, the “Grand Central Station for Oklahoma.”

The plan
The three phases of hub construction were estimated to cost around $127 million, spread between federal and state funding, as well as among several cities participating in the regional transit plan.

The grant application laid out the city’s early plans for the hub:

—E.K. Gaylord plaza: an entrance and plaza running on the east side of Gaylord

—E.K. Gaylord streetcar: a streetcar stop at the front of the hub

—Bricktown plaza: a pedestrian thoroughfare under the existing elevated tracks, connecting downtown to Bricktown near the Bricktown canal’s westernmost termination point, which ends in a fountain. The plaza would contain green space and connect the hub to water taxis on the canal

—Renovations and acquisition of Santa Fe Train Depot —Renovations to the southern Amtrak station in Santa Fe Train Depot

Moving on
As part of the TIGER III application, the city put up $6.1 million in MAPS 3 funds and secured $2 million in funding from the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments and $1 million from the state Department of Transportation.

The amount of MAPS 3 money is enough to cover the estimated $9 million for property acquisition and Phase I property improvements.

Eric Wenger, OKC public works director, said the grant denial is not a setback.

“It’s done, it’s gone and we’ve moved on from that,” he said at the MAPS 3 streetcar subcommittee meeting on Jan. 25.

Jane Abraham, community and government affairs manager in the city manager’s office, said in terms of the local funding, the ACOG money may need to be reapplied for, while the ODOT portion was an in-kind donation of nearby land to be used for parking.

Abraham said the city is working to apply for another federal grant for about $2.5 million for work on E.K. Gaylord Boulevard that hopefully would benefit some plans for the hub.

Wenger noted that there is no definitive timeline for the additional improvements. He said the city is going to continue seeking additional funding for the project.

“We’re looking at every opportunity to engage and look at alternate sources of funding for all of our transit areas, all of the areas around the hub or streetcar, and will continue to do so,” Wenger said.

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02.01.2012 at 04:32 Reply

Grand Central Station of Oklahoma? Only a paid consultant could say something like that. Please spare us the hypocrisy!  That location was the Union Station, whose rail yard was paved over by the I-40 relocation project. As a rail depot, Union Station is so superior in every way to the Santa Fe, starting with AT GRADE loading, that it is almost ridiculous to even compare the two.  And how can this be a true multi modal location if the city' bus transit center is blocks away ELSEWHERE in downtown. Will the Greyhound Bus folks be welcome here? Maybe the Bricktown people don't want OKC bus riders hanging out at their gateway?