Ruling could delay Oklahoma City's Crosstown Expressway work

By The Associated Press Published: April 29, 2009
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"W
e're in the catbird seat for railway development. We're a shovel-ready project waiting for an opportunity.

"Why is ODOT trying to rip the center out from our railway network? Why does the Department of Transportation want to cripple our rail capacity?" Elmore said.

Although BNSF filed the relocation request and the state is not directly involved, the state will pay for relocating the line as part of the Crosstown project, Ridley said.

The project requires grading, drainage and construction of a railroad bridge. Eventually the new Crosstown Expressway will go under that railroad bridge, according to transportation officials. The new stretch of roadway where the rail line is now located will be 8 to 10 feet deep.

The project's total cost will rise to $600 million if a planned boulevard is built along parts of the existing roadway's path, Ridley said.

The board, which is affiliated with the Department of Transportation, was created in 1995 and succeeded the Interstate Commerce Commission. It is an economic regulatory agency whose fundamental mission is to resolve railroad rate and service disputes and review proposed railroad mergers.

The relocation request was filed after the board last June reversed an earlier decision that gave the railroad authority to abandon and discontinue use of the line to facilitate the highway relocation project.

BNSF had claimed that the line should be abandoned because no local traffic had moved over the line for at least two years prior to the railroad's abandonment request in September 2005, according to the board's ruling.

But the board said evidence presented by opponents of the move, including photographs allegedly showing a train being pulled by two BNSF locomotives, indicated that BNSF's assertion "was false or misleading," the board's decision states.

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