A yearslong effort to create a railway quiet zone that would spare downtown residents from being awakened by blaring train horns at 2 a.m. is gaining momentum with a public-private funding proposal set to be submitted next month to the Oklahoma City Council.
The quiet zone, if funded, would block off some scarcely traveled crossings and enhance crossing signals and gates at intersections including NW 10 and NW 13. That would allow train engineers to pass through the crossings without sounding a locomotive's horn.
Prior talks to combine funding for a quiet zone with tax increment financing for a $36 million apartment complex at NW 11 and Broadway collapsed in 2011 when the developer, Houston-based Bomasada Group, and the city failed to agree on terms.
Brent Bryant, Oklahoma City's economic development manager, said Monday his office has been working with public works engineers and The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City to detail likely costs of the project and possible funding scenarios.
The current estimate, which is subject to change, is $3.9 million.
Funding proposal has gap
Cathy O'Connor, president of the Alliance, is hoping to present the city council a commitment of $500,000 to be paid by developers and property owners in nearby MidTown and Automobile Alley, and a proposed $2 million from the downtown Tax Increment Finance district.
“The question is how do we close the $1.4 million gap?” O'Connor said. “There has been information presented that a temporary solution might reduce the cost by $900,000. We could do that with barriers on closed streets instead of building cul-de-sacs.”
The temporary solution, O'Connor said, still would require a future funding plan — one that might include placement on a later bond issue to be submitted to voters.
“Future development in the area could make these street closings permanent or not necessary,” she added.