OKC Transportation Representatives Prepare For D.C. Visit, Bringing Focus To Upcoming Projects

EMBARK Executive Director Jason Ferbrache will travel to Washington, D.C. on Friday to meet with Oklahoma's congressional delegation and representatives from other federal agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration.

Wednesday, February 21st 2024, 10:39 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe


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EMBARK Executive Director Jason Ferbrache will travel to Washington, D.C. on Friday to meet with Oklahoma's congressional delegation and representatives from other federal agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration.

Ferbrache gave a quick forecast for the meeting during his report at the Regional Transportation Authority meeting on Wednesday. 

The RTA is currently pushing multiple projects. The most significant would be a metro commuter rail from Edmond to Norman, which already has strong backing from its member cities. "We want to tell the story about all the good work that the RTA is accomplishing here locally," Ferbrache said. "So, we want to brief them on some of the projects we've made progress on."

Federal dollars for an eventual commuter rail would require a match at the local level. Former Governor Brad Henry, chair of the RTA, previously told News 9 that a ballot initiative for local funding could be brought before metro voters in late 2024 or early 2025. 

"We certainly want to plant the seed," Ferbrache said when asked if he would discuss federal funding opportunities while in D.C. "We want to talk about the magnitude of the project and how we are working diligently to satisfy all the federal requirements early on so we can be eligible for funding in the future."

During Wednesday's meeting, updates were also shared on the RTA's west and airport corridor projects. Ideas are still in the preliminary development phase, but feedback from a virtual town hall last month was shared with the board.

Consultants for the group said they are still exploring whether routes to the airport would be by light rail or bus. Presenters told the group some streets on the route might be too small to support the guideways needed for a light rail.

Expansions in that direction might have a slight overlap with current plans for MAPS 4 Bus Rapid Transit, which is separate from the RTA's efforts. The group examined several different ideas for routes, with a discussion on maximizing connectivity between different transportation services.

A resolution, which would have expressed intent to reimburse member cities for land purchases for the eventual commuter rail project, was postponed to next month's meeting with the expectation member city councils would have more time to review the language.

Future ambitions would make the Oklahoma City Santa Fe Transit Hub the focal point of transportation expansion. A spokesperson for EMBARK confirmed Oklahoma City would base its commuter rail station at that pre-existing location. Norman and Edmond are the other two member cities that would likely need to purchase land.

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