Metro Residents Could Soon Be Commuting by Rail

Friday, January 30th 2009, 6:26 pm

By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma -- Money from President Obama's proposed stimulus package could roll into the metro. Midwest City officials are hoping to use the cash flow for a chunk of funding for a commuter railway line into Bricktown.

Midwest City officials and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments have been meeting to talk about the project. The idea is to start in Midwest City, and expand to other metro cities eventually. Edmond, Norman, Yukon and Del City are all possibilities down the line.

"Right now, we're just in the exploratory stages, trying to get the right players involved," Doug Rex with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments said.

Midwest City leaders said the window of opportunity is now if the Senate passes Obama's economic stimulus package next week. The U.S. House of Representatives already passed the legislation. If it passes in the Senate, the idea is to get a chunk of the money to start funding the railway project.

"They wanted to target projects that would conserve energy, that would be green projects. And so a commuter rail addresses a lot of those issues," Midwest City Manager Guy Henson said.

The existing tracks start near SE 15 Street and Douglas Boulevard, past the intersection of Reno Avenue and Sooner Road, and end in Bricktown. But the line needs reconstruction.

"It's an old line. It's got one bridge tressel that's out. And the line itself would need to be upgraded for engines that travel at a high rate of speed," Henson said.

The vision for the project starts with the old tracks in Midwest City, but only ends after a metro wide-system is running at full speed ahead.

"For the first time, I think there's an excitement about the possibility of having a more comprehensive public transportation system than what we currently have," Rex said.

If Obama's stimulus package doesn't pass the Senate next week, Midwest City leaders said they will continue dialogue about the commuter rail. It just may take a little longer to get it done. The next step is to pinpoint exact locations on the existing tracks where the train would start and stop.


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