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Tue July 30, 2013
ODOT: Passenger Rail Expansion "Distant"
Passenger railway travel between Oklahoma City and Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Wichita Kansas may be a distant possibility, according to Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials.
David Streb, director of engineering for the department, said Monday that such developments are still a ways away despite all the buzz.
In 2011, the Legislature passed House Bill 1686, creating the Eastern Flyer Passenger Rail Development Task Force. The task force’s mission was to develop a public-private partnership to finance daily passenger train service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
After the task force’s expiration, the Tulsa City Council established a local advisory committee to continue the work of the state task force. Using state train tracks already in place between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the group had hoped to initiate conventional passenger rail services within six months (as of January of this year) if the state invested approximately $5 million.
However, a few months ago began preparations to sell the 95.7 mile Sooner Sub line that connects the two cities after receiving unsolicited offers from railroad companies late last year. A sale was expected by Sept. 1; however, after concerns regarding the sale of state-owned rail property arose, the Legislature saw fit to pass a measure that would require additional review by certain state agencies before a sale is carried out.