Restoration Of Downtown OKC's Old Santa Fe Train Station In Jeopardy

Monday, May 2nd 2016, 1:55 pm
By: Karl Torp

Oklahoma lawmakers are looking under every rock of public financing to cure the state’s massive budget woes.

That includes talk of shutting down the Heartland Flyer passenger train.

The Amtrak train serves 81,000 riders between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, each year.

Right now, at Santa Fe Station in downtown Oklahoma City, crews are busy renovating were passengers catch the train.

“Very Stylish," said Larry Correa with Jim Cooley Construction, which is in charge of most of the $28 million renovation.

“Art Deco everywhere,” Correa said about bringing the facility back to original state. 

Plans call for a restaurant, office and retail space, and a grand lobby area for riders.

The main purpose of the project is to turn the station into a main transportation hub where people catch a train, bus, use the bike share or get on a MAPS 3 street car.

Santa Fe was built in 1933, and more than $13 million of the project is being funded through a federal transportation investment grant.

Phase one of the project will be completed in the fall, but city leaders are worried about that $13 million in funding if the Heartland Flyer is shut down.

State lawmakers are debating the move because it would save the state around $3 million each year.

“That check comes with strings,” said Jane Abraham in government affairs for Oklahoma City.

Abraham worries that the city may lose some it federal grant money or have to pay back the money already spent if passenger rail isn’t at Santa Fe Station.

“Passenger was part of that application. It was a huge part of that application,” Abraham said, who wonders what will happen to the federal money.

In fact, the city was denied the grant two previous times.

Abraham says she is quite sure the federal government will be checking out where its money is going, especially on a grant that size.

“They do come back and audit,” she said.