Marion Hutchison, chairman of the nonprofit rail advocacy group OnTrac and a member of the Regional Transit Dialogue Steering Committee, said the garage could impede rail expansion efforts. The garage project, as proposed, would hamper efforts to use the Santa Fe train depot as a hub for any future commuter rail to Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base, a line to the Adventure District in northeast Oklahoma City, and any potential high speed transit that might be attempted in the region, Hutchison said.
Oklahoma City has $128.8 million in MAPS 3 funding for a streetcar system and transit hub set to be located at the Santa Fe depot at E.K. Gaylord and Sheridan Avenue — a property still privately owned.
Planning for the MAPS 3 streetcar system is overseen by the city, while planning for possible (but so far unfunded) commuter rail to Midwest City, Edmond and Norman is being overseen by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG).
Karchmer said he was surprised by the response.
“The only possible affect would be on high-speed rail, as currently planned,” Karchmer said. “I believe there is an alternative for where they are trying to go. There is a cheaper and easier way to go. I'm in favor of rail as much as anybody else is; the light (commuter) rail I'm very much in favor of, and this won't affect it a bit.”