Oklahoma transportation officials said Thursday evening they are looking at good, better and best options during a two-year, nearly $5 million study of developing passenger rail from Tulsa to Oklahoma City.
But several proponents of passenger rail service said they'd settle for good: It is much cheaper and quicker to implement passenger service on an existing state-owned freight line between Oklahoma City and Sapulpa.
The rail would give commuters an option in the next year or so, as well as ignite an economic spark to cities and towns where the train would stop along the route.
About 75 attended the state Transportation Department's third and final informational meeting on passenger rail service Thursday at the MetroTech campus in Oklahoma City. About 70 attended a similar meeting Wednesday night in Stroud and about 115 attended Tuesday night's meeting in Tulsa.
“This is a joke,” said state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, who held a legislative study three years ago on passenger rail service in Oklahoma. “High-speed rail is a long shot.
“What we need to do is fix the track from here to Sapulpa, work out an agreement from Sapulpa into Tulsa and create passenger rail at a reasonable speed so that people can use it as alternative passenger transportation.”
David Streb, director of engineering for the Oklahoma Transportation Department, said written comments are being sought on whether the state should pursue high-speed rail, traditional rail, or a hybrid version.
Streb said he is aware of the support by rail enthusiasts for using the existing 95.7-mile Sooner Sub line, which runs near the Turner Turnpike. But other factors, such as safety and its impact on residents and the environment, will be considered.
A recommendation from the study would have to meet the approval of the Federal Railroad Administration, Streb said. The plan then would be presented to state lawmakers and the governor for their consideration.
At a glance
Rail options between Tulsa, OKC
High-speed rail: Has speeds of up to 100 mph and an estimated travel time of 58 minutes between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. A high-speed line would be built north of the Turner Turnpike/Interstate 44.
Traditional rail: Has a travel time of two hours or more, using the existing 95.7-mile Sooner Sub line, which runs along or south of the Turner Turnpike/Interstate 44.
Rail hybrid: Would straighten out some of the curves on the Sooner Sub line, making for faster travel.
To comment: Comments still are being accepted online at www.