By Evan Anderson, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A new rail-based streetcar system is expected to go through downtown and Bricktown. And the plan took a big step forward Wednesday as the city council approved a list of project requirements.
The project has been nearly nine years the making, now it's down to the final steps before construction actually begins. So, in about four years, a ride through downtown and Bricktown will look a lot different.
"So now, we're getting into the nitty gritty," said project manager, Jeff Bezdek. "What does this look like? Where exactly does it go? What are the integral pieces of the puzzle that we have to put together?"
The route, which will extend from Deep Deuce across the Walnut Street Bridge through Bricktown, will link up with the Historic Santa Fe Station. From there, streetcars would continue through downtown and Midtown to St. Anthony's hospital.
"Trains will come by every 10 to 12 minutes during the day, and late into the evening," said Bezdek.
"I think it would be great, anything to improve the transportation around here," said nearby resident, John Piler.
"We're parking way over here in order to see the Thunder game," said Piler's wife Betty. "So it would be good to hop on the streetcar and get closer."
It's a project designed to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City. In 2009, voters approved a nearly 8-year long one-cent sales tax, part of the MAPS 3 project, to construct public works projects. Included in that initiative, $130-million for permanent transit improvements.
"And of course, whatever we build in terms of light rail system, we want it to be of the same quality and standards as all of the MAPS projects," said Bezdek.
Bezdek says he wants to make sure the project not only stays within budget, but also meets people's expectations.
The Maps 3 Transit is expected to be a fairly expansive system. Future commuter rails are also in the works to Midwest City, Norman, Del City, Moore, and Edmond. The initial goal though is to complete the 5 to 6 mile streetcar project first.
Project managers say planning and design will continue throughout 2013. Construction of the new OKC streetcar system should begin, in early 2014.