About 200 people packed downtown’s Santa Fe Station Wednesday as city and state civic leaders joined with transit officials in celebrating its acquisition by Oklahoma City and pending conversion into a regional transit center.
Mayor Mick Cornett called the day “historic,” adding, “this needs to be a transit hub going forward into 21st century.”
Since the late 1990s, the Santa Fe Station at E.K. Gaylord and Sheridan Avenue has been a morning departure and evening arrival point for Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, which carries 87,000 passengers a year.
Thanks to a $13.5 million federal grant announced last year, the city is set to pursue a full conversion of the station into a hub that will also serve an urban streetcar line set to open in 2017 and potentially a regional transit system being discussed by officials in Edmond, Oklahoma City, Norman and Midwest City.
“It’s going to be great to have company here at the station,” said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman. “Every place we have the opportunity to exchange passengers with others, whether it’s with local transit, car rentals, streetcars, or rapid bus transit, everyone benefits. Getting people to where they need to be going is great. Getting them to their home or within a couple of miles of going home is even greater.”
City officials are negotiating a contract with TAP Architecture, a firm located within walking distance of the station.
While acknowledging the community’s attention is focused on the opportunity to further restore the station, Architect Anthony McDermid said he is equally excited about the chance to expand the site into a regional transit hub and open up a tunnel from the station underneath the BNSF Railway viaduct into Bricktown.
The Santa Fe Train Station was previously owned by Brewer Entertainment, which repaired years of blight and reopened it for Amtrak service in 1999. The station originally opened in 1932.