ODOT eyes high speed rail
Oklahoma can already brag that it leads the nation in spending its federal stimulus dollars allocated for road and bridge projects.
Now state transportation officials could be going after another pot of federal dollars. High speed rail. Oklahoma is included in one of ten proposed high speed rail corriders. The South Central corrider would begin in Tulsa and connect Oklahomans to existing rail routes in San Antonio. Another spur would veer east toward Arkansas and connect passengers to trains that run out of Chicago at Little Rock. It’s a plan that hold promise. However, the plan currently only has $8 billion in funding.
Oklahoma’s Transportation Director Gary Ridley estimates would could cost more than a $1 billion just to improve the track between Oklahoma City and Tulsa for high speed rail use.
State officials must decide by July 10 if they want to compete for rail funding. The national project is ambitious, but if executed it could change the way the nation’s transportation system works. It would conserve fuel as well, something the Obama administration has made a priority.
But naysayers might say that our current rail system is already propped by federal subsidies, and this would just create more of burden. It’s an interesting concept. And wouldn’t be nice to get on a train in Oklahoma City and get to San Antonio or link up with the vast network of lines that radiate from Chicago’s Amtrak station?
I’ve traveled cross country by train only once, going from Chicago to Spokane, Wash. It was a beautiful trip going through the plains and mountains and Americana in between. But it also took nearly two days and cost just as much as an airplane ticket, if not more.
For a rail system to really work, those are obstacles that would have to be addressed before the American public sees the value.
For more information on the project go to: http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/31
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