Railroads tie up crosstown plans

Friday, June 6th 2008, 11:24 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

A federal ruling said Burlington North Santa Fe provided false or misleading information about their tracks, and as a result, they can't destroy three miles of the track for the new highway.

Tom Elmore, a train enthusiast, said he believes the current train infrastructure in Oklahoma, including the union station yard, is an underused and undervalued gem.

"It is literally the center of all our state's railways, including the often unknown but phenomenal 900 miles of state owns rail lines," Elmore said.

When a federal agency stopped BNSF from abandoning or destroying three miles of railroad track, he called it a win for Oklahoma's rail future. Elmore said destroying the track could lead to the end of the union station yard.

"This facility is the only opportunity this generation of Oklahomans have to see a comprehensive regional transit system," Elmore said.

Rep. Al Lindley (D-Oklahoma City) opposed abandoning the tracks and believes the state needs to put a stronger focus on trains as gas prices rise.

The tracks in question sit on space Oklahoma Department of Transportation needs to make room for the new cross-town bridge.

"At this point in time, we really are waiting," said Brend Perry of ODOT. "We are trying to get in touch with the railroad to find out what their next step is."

A BNSF spokesperson said the company is working with their lawyers to figure out their next step and possible alternatives to avoid impact to the cross-town construction schedule.