ODOT Plans To Sell Railway Between OKC, Tulsa

Tuesday, January 14th 2014, 5:29 pm
By: Karl Torp

The Department of Transportation's plan to sell its railway line between Tulsa and OKC could mean the end of a passenger train between the two cities.

In February, the Eastern Flyer will service three passenger excursion trips from just outside Tulsa to Midwest City. The trip will allow passengers to enjoy dinner, visit downtown OKC, and take in a Thunder game.

12/20/2013 Related Story: Passenger Rail Set To Connect OKC, Tulsa

Almost all of the 900 tickets, priced at $70, have sold so far. Many thought the Eastern Flyer may bring the start of a permanent train between the two cities.

Now, the ODOT, which owns the line, plans to sell it to the highest bidder. Opening bids will start at $9.1 million with a January 30 deadline.

"It's just a mistake," said OKC City Councilman Pete White.

Councilman White believes OKC should have been told about the sale sooner.

"It doesn't appear to be very open, because we didn't know about it," White said.

White says he'll look into trying to delay the bid deadline to give OKC a better shot at figuring out a way to keep the line open to passengers.

But White admits, "It's very late in the game."

ODOT says it may decide to keep the line and allow companies to lease the railway. The move may open the door to a permanent passenger railway solution between Tulsa and OKC.

However, ODOT tells News 9 when it purchased the line in 1998, it was always their intention to maintain the railway and eventually sell it back to a private company.

It says it decided to sell after hearing from freight railway companies wanting to buy the rail line.