BIOG: NAME: UPD: 19 -TEXT-
A contract for preliminary engineering and design services for a $16 million light rail system was forwarded Wednesday to the Metropolitan Area Projects advisory board for consideration today.
The MAPS Citizens Oversight Board is expected to recommend approval of the proposal and send it on to the Oklahoma City Council for consideration next week.
Funds to pay for a $407,800 contract for Huitt-Zollars Inc. to design the system will come from community development block grants and federal grants, said Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority Director Randy Hume.
Huitt-Zollars engineers will design the rail portion of the system, which will be located in an area bounded by Reno Avenue on the south, Walnut Avenue on the east, NW 6 on the north and Hudson Avenue on the west.
Even though $3 million in MAPS sales tax revenue collections was set aside for the rail system project, the money cannot be spent until there are enough federal funds available to pay for 50 percent of total costs.
Two weeks ago, the rail plan, a key element in the $297 million MAPS plan, garnered a $2 million allocation in federal funds from a joint House-Senate Appropriations committee. That sum fell significantly short of the $13 million requested, Hume said.
Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Warr Acres, told the appropriations committee chairman that the Oklahoma City plan was not cost-effective and that, Hume said, was the reason for the small allocation.
Hume told members of the MAPS transportation committee on Wednesday that "the door is not closed yet," on federal funding and that COTPA and other city officials will continue to lobby for additional allocations next year.
When voters in 1993 approved the five-year, 1-cent sales tax to fund MAPS, the ballot called for at least 50 percent in federal funds to be used before the city's $3 million in MAPS sales tax revenue collections could be spent on the rail system.
"That's the way the ballot was written and no MAPS money has been spent on the transportation link," Assistant City Manager Jim Thompson said.
Hume said Istook inaccurately stated Oklahoma City's federal grant status in his dealings with the appropriations committee chairman.
Istook said city officials could use other discretionary federal funds. Those discretionary funds, Hume said, include $3.4 million in Section 9 funds administered by the Federal Transit Authority.
Of those, $1 million goes for operations and a little more than $2 million is used for capital projects and planning. All of the Section 9 funds are used primarily to replace buses for the city's mass transit system, Hume said.
Even though they got a lot less than they asked for, COTPA officials believe the $2 million in federal funds will keep the MAPS rail link system design on schedule.
The fixed-rail trolley will be located downtown to connect the MAPS baseball stadium in Bricktown and the Myriad Convention Center. It will run 2.7 miles with nine stops on the loop.
Voters in 1993 approved a five-year, 1-cent sales tax to fund nine major sports and entertainment facilities as part of the $297 million MAPS plan.Archive ID: 659122