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Oklahoma lawmaker's dream of high-speed rail is left at the station

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: July 17, 2013

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon recently approved 68 interim studies, half the number requested. One of those left wanting, thank goodness, was a study into the feasibility of high-speed passenger rail service along the Interstate 44 corridor from Lawton to Tulsa.

Rep. David Perryman, D-Pocasset, had hoped to review costs, ridership potential and other issues related to rail service. Before getting turned down, Perryman told the Express-Star newspaper in Chickasha that he foresaw a system similar to one that sends trains between St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., about 110 mph and takes 600 cars a day off roads in the state. A driver who sees a train passing them “gets the idea that this is something they could look into for themselves,” he said. “This is a viable alternative.”

Actually, it's not. Not when estimates show it would cost up to $2 billion just to make the track improvements needed to run high-speed rail from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. The cost to prepare track from Lawton to Oklahoma would likely be comparable. But even if it were half as much, that would be a $3 billion investment — before placing a single car on those tracks or subsidizing daily operational costs. That's quite a commitment for a little less wear and tear on the turnpike.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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