Oklahoma Rail Lines Could Benefit From Stimulus

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Oklahoma's transportation system will benefit significantly from the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act legislation signed by the President Tuesday. Besides funding for roads, the state is eligible to apply for some of the more than $9 billion in funds for railway development. Oklahoma leaders should seize this opportunity and make application for these stimulus rail development funds.

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In a statement today, Oklahoma Rail Board Chairman Matt Dowty said:

"Oklahoma's transportation system will benefit significantly from the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act legislation signed by the President Tuesday. Besides funding for roads and bridges, the state is eligible to apply for some of the more than $9 billion in funds for railway development. Oklahoma leaders should seize this opportunity and make application for these stimulus rail development funds.

In 2000, Oklahoma won a federal designation from the Secretary of Transportation for a high speed rail route from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex through Oklahoma City to Tulsa, part of a system of routes throughout Arkansas and Texas. The Oklahoma spoke of the South Central Corridor was approved, in part, because travel along the route by all modes is already the 34th (Oklahoma City-Tulsa) and 102nd (Dallas/Fort Worth-Oklahoma City) busiest in the nation.

Most of Oklahoma's rail lines sit on nineteenth century alignments with excessive curvature and insufficient capacity for 21st century needs. These new funds can be used to modernize these routes in order to reduce travel times and increase reliability and service frequency.

Think of the dotted lines on the map before the interstate highway system was complete. This week, the first significant federal funding was approved to begin filling in those lines around the country.

Other proposed Oklahoma routes, such as Oklahoma City-Edmond-Guthrie-Perry Ponca City-Wichita-Kansas City and Saint Louis-Springfield-Vinita-Claremore-Tulsa are also eligible for stimulus rail funds. Segments of intercity projects within the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas could also form foundation infrastructure for proposed commuter rail service.

Developing modernized higher speed, multiple frequency rail services for passengers and freight will help accomplish important national goals such as:

  •     Creation of good-paying jobs
  •     Increased energy efficiency and reduced dependence on foreign sources of oil
  •     Reduced emissions
  •     Increased capacity along busy routes to help untangle congestion

For Oklahoma, developing high performance rail will extend the reach of markets for our goods, free travelers from the volatility of fuel prices, stimulate activity in the hearts of our towns and cities, better leverage the new venues steps away from rail lines in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and enhance the experience of travel by using the space and comfort of trains to make travel time less stressful, more productive and restful. Expanding the availability of trains will also improve quality of life by providing mobility for those who can not easily drive themselves.

Amtrak nationally and Oklahoma's Heartland Flyer service set all-time ridership records in 2008. The popularity continues as January 2009 was the best for that month in the history of the Oklahoma-sponsored Amtrak service."

Oklahoma Rail

http://www.oklahomarail.org

P.O. Box 2421
Chickasha, OK 73023-2421
580-478-2781
580-237-3573 fax
oklahomarail (at) oklahomarail (dot) org

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Matthew Dowty
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