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Streetcar plans scrutinized by Oklahoma City Council

Several council members ask project developers to ensure consultants will study all available options for setting route, scope of downtown streetcar project. Surprised chair of transit subcommittee said same council members have been a part of project's development for years.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Modified: January 3, 2013 at 11:40 am •  Published: January 3, 2013

Shadid said he would like the consultants to consider the intent of the streetcar — increased use of public transportation or economic development in general — when developing a final route, and said he would like them to consider incorporating the proposed park south of downtown into the streetcar route, since it is also a MAPS 3 project.

“If we're going to do Core to Shore we have to answer: Why aren't we going to use the streetcar to make that happen?” he said. “We need the maximum amount of people looking at that route.”

David Greenwell said he would like the route to include a proposed retail plaza adjacent to the future site of the downtown convention center.

Skip Kelly said rails already in place in the so-called Adventure District in northeast Oklahoma City may allow for the route to be expanded northward.

Pete White said he thinks all possible routes and scenarios should be analyzed by the consultant group.

The ballot language that supported the transit aspect of MAPS 3 did not specify exactly how the money would be spent, but City Manager Jim Couch said it was “anticipated” $120 million of the $130 million allocated for transit would be spent on streetcar development with the remainder going toward development of a central transportation hub.

Mayor Mick Cornett said he is confident in the subcommittee's plans and is comfortable following its lead.

“I think the language was very carefully crafted to give us options, but I think the intent was to make sure that we build the downtown streetcar as a circulator system for downtown,” he said.

Other concerns expressed by the council on Wednesday included the type of rail that would be laid as well as the propulsion system used by the streetcars.

Mike Mize, program consultant for MAPS 3, said the design firm will be asked to study all of the options “and to not just assume that the route is the final route.”

“They are looking at other alternatives,” he said. “I don't know that I would call it a brand new starting point, but they are looking at the current route, preferred route, and analyzing it as well as other routes.”

He said a public hearing also will be held this month to formulate further plans and possibilities for the proposed downtown streetcar.

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