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Voters to Decide On Urban Rail Line

Jack Money Published: November 21, 1993

The answer to the future of central Oklahoma's mass transit system lies in the past, proponents of an interurban commuter rail line believe.

They point out that the first phase of a modern interurban commuter rail line would become a reality if voters approve a five-year, 1-cent sales tax on Dec. 14 to fund the Metro Area Projects (MAPS) plan.

One of the plan's projects would spend $3 million to help pay for building a passenger rail line between the Interstate 40-Meridian Avenue interchange to downtown Oklahoma City and Bricktown.

The rest of what the project would cost, $12 million, would come through federal grants.

Steve Klika, administrator of the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking and Authority (COTPA), said a final design study will determine whether the transportation link will be a monorail or a diesel-electric trolley car system.

The final selection will depend upon cost.

If it turns out to be a trolley car system or some variation, then the likely route will enter and leave downtown on a street such as Sheridan or Reno.

Just east of the state fairgrounds, the line would switch over to railroad tracks, leading west to the I-40 and Meridian interchange.

Klika said the system is designed to link motels in the I-40 and Meridian area to the fairgrounds and downtown-Bricktown areas.

Such a system would be the beginning of an eventual commuter railway stretching from Guthrie to Norman and from Shawnee to Yukon, Klika said.

Klika has been working for years on developing a plan that will bring commuter rail service back to Oklahoma City.

Klika said the process began with a decision by Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority in the 1980s to shift central Oklahoma's bus service to regional routes with buses starting and ending in different locations around the metropolitan area.

Before, all buses departed and returned to a central location in downtown Oklahoma City.

The next step, he said, was to secure a central location where interstate bus service could be combined with a local mass transportation system.

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