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Light rail could be in works for city

By Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 11, 2008
Downtowners got their shot at quizzing Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett on Thursday, and they learned he advocates a light rail system as part of a MAPS 3, but any vote on such an initiative is at least two years away.

Cornett, speaking to Urban Neighbors at the Skirvin Hilton, acknowledged he originally hoped to propose a MAPS 3 initiative later this year. But those plans, he said, were set aside when it became clear he would need to call a vote sooner to modify Ford Center for an incoming NBA team.

Sensing voter fatigue
With that tax extension passed along with bond issues for public works and city schools, Cornett said, he's not sure if voters are eager to see another vote anytime soon.

"I sense some voter fatigue, frankly, coming out of the March 4 vote,” Cornett said.

Cornett agreed with another questioner that he would like to see an NBA practice arena built downtown, but team owners have indicated they may follow league tradition and seek to locate in the suburbs close to where players live.

Responding to a question about public transportation, Cornett said he wants to see a light rail system that serves downtown and tourists. But he added he would want to see Edmond and Norman participate in funding additional rail links to those suburbs.

"I don't think we're going to create more interest in downtown by making it easier to live in Edmond or Norman,” Cornett said.

Cornett also suggested that Oklahoma City, Tulsa and other cities eventually could approach legislators about providing operational funds to match any capital investment.

A statewide issue
"The state Legislature should address public transportation, because right now their participation is pitiful,” Cornett said.

Cornett also rejected a suggestion submitted by another member of Urban Neighbors that downtown's Oklahoma Spirit trolley system is mismanaged by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority.

Instead, Cornett said, the city is struggling to sell the idea of public transportation in a community that has been planned and developed for vehicular traffic.

"We're just not very good at getting people to ride them (the trolleys).”

Crime, poverty addressed
Discussing other issues, Cornett said he is satisfied the city is adequately addressing homelessness and gang violence.

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Mick Cornett


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