Oklahoma's Own In Focus: Connecting The Metro

Several new developments are being made within the metro. Learn more about new possible rail systems.

Wednesday, January 17th 2024, 10:12 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe


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Several new developments are being made within the metro. Learn more about new possible rail systems.

January 17 Meeting

The Regional Transportation Authority of Central Oklahoma met for the first time in 2024 on Wednesday.

Its agenda included mostly routine items but featured one proposed resolution asking the board to approve a reimbursement procedure for member cities that purchase land for a future rail line connecting Edmond to Norman. "A big piece of that is station locations and so that’s where it’s really getting complicated," said Jason Ferbrache, interim executive director of EMBARK and a member of the RTA board. "[We're] identifying parcels along that railroad right of way where it’s feasible to construct commuter rail platforms.”

The resolution was ultimately dropped before Wednesday's meeting, and no action was taken. Ferbrache said the delay is because RTA's legal team is still working through language and details for its land acquisition.

Brad Henry, chairman of the board and former Governor, said the group expects to take up the resolution during February's meeting. “This has been studied for a couple of decades now in the central Oklahoma area and now we’re bringing all of that hard work of our predecessors to fruition," Henry said.

Ambitions for the rail line were first announced in 2021. The authority will seek millions in federal grant dollars to help fund the project, but that investment is expected to be matched by local contributions through a yet-to-be passed sales tax. The RTA is expecting a ballot initiative to appear before regional voters in member cities in either late 2024 or early 2025, but an exact date has not been announced or determined.

During Wednesday's meeting, the board also revealed that 15% of the commuter line plans have been conceptualized. Preliminary cost estimates are expected to be announced at February's meeting. Ferbrache and Henry said the group's consultants will be there to present their latest findings.

Yukon To Will Rogers Airport

The RTA is also working on another rail project to connect Yukon and Will Rogers World Airport to downtown Oklahoma City. A virtual town hall about the project will be held on Thursday.

Heartland Flyer Update

The Federal Railroad Administration also announced in December that a $500,000 expansion is coming to the Heartland Flyer, which would extend its service up into Wichita, Kansas.

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