The Union Station debate brought rail transit to the forefront of public and political awareness. While the matter involved saving a rail yard, of greater importance was changing our mindset and joining peer cities in the 21st century of public transportation. More importantly, it was about ensuring our economic future.
The rail yard issue is now behind us. But the enthusiasm for rail transit that came from the discussion continues to grow. Now is not the time to stand still. We need to take advantage of the momentum and wisely move forward together to develop a rail transit system for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area.
The light rail streetcar system proposed in MAPS 3 is an important first step toward that system. In addition to providing valuable transit service for those living and working in the downtown core, it will connect to a future intermodal hub and provide an important means of transit between the hub and locations throughout the core, including the central business district, Bricktown, the OU Health Sciences Center, the Capitol complex, the new convention center and the central park.
MAPS 3 also includes funding for the hub, the location of which will be determined prior to construction of the streetcar system. At Oklahoma City's request, ACOG is initiating an intermodal hub study to determine the most effective design and location for the hub.
MAPS 3 and its $130 million commitment for a streetcar system and hub and commuter rail infrastructure is not premature. On the contrary, the time is now. If we wish to improve our quality of life and secure our economic and transportation future, we must boldly move forward and develop a rail transit system.
MAPS 3 is a critical first step toward our rail transit future.
"Marion Hutchison, Norman
Hutchison is president of Oklahomans for New Transportation Alternatives Coalition, LLC (OnTrac).