TULSA - Three special train excursions from Sapulpa to Oklahoma City sold out almost immediately, and rail proponents point to the success of the Eastern Flyer to illustrate that rail has a future in Oklahoma, despite plans by the state's transportation department to sell the rail line between Oklahoma's largest two cities.
Thursday, Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) announced a package of three transportation bills, one of which (HB2897) would force ODOT to get approval from the legislature before selling the key rail line.
In a statement obtained by KRMG, Morrissette said
“In session 2012, I passed the State Infrastructure Bank bill, HB2469, to begin offering communities desperate for transportation infrastructure economic development dollars the opportunity to begin work on expansion of those much needed options. Under ODOT’s management, establishing the bank has yet to even be a topic for discussion by the Transportation Commission, much less an item for their monthly agenda…that was 2 years ago! What is ODOT focusing upon? Selling the public access right-of-way from here to Tulsa to limit transportation options!”
He added, “We spend a fortune on paving contracts only to rank 2nd Worst Roads and Bridges in the nation. There is no funding for sustainable modes of transportation, moving more people in fewer trips. The rail line between OKC and Tulsa is a present and future lifeline to more modern and sustainable travel. However, ODOT persists in its efforts to sell the line.”
The line is currently leased by the state to private companies.
It needs major work before it would be capable of hosting high-speed trains; currently, traffic on the line is limited to speeds ranging from 30 to 40 mph.