High-speed rail may bypass Tulsa

KTUL’s Charles Ely reported Monday on the ongoing issue of high-speed rail service for Tulsa which advocates warn may be ignored as Oklahoma City’s (OKC) influence with State Government is targeted to expanding Amtrack routes only for itself in-state.

Ely noted OKC’s route to Fort Worth was saved in the most recent Federal budget and now the city has applied to obtain additional service to Kansas City.

The concern is that future rail service development will bypass Eastern Oklahoma as Metropolitan Tulsa area service is not an apparent concern of officials in OKC.

However, Tulsa is on the planning maps for High-Speed Rail (HSR) nationwide and Tulsa Today has the map below from the association promoting this development.

The HSR promotes a vision of a 21st century transportation system of 17,000 mile national high speed rail system built in 4 phases, for completion by 2030.  This new national system, they say, will help “revitalize our economy, reactivate our manufacturing sector, create millions of jobs, end our oil dependency, reduce congestion, and cut our carbon footprint by epic proportions.  Powered by electricity, this system provides sustainable, affordable, safe mobility for all.” Impressive.

Advocates call “for a national system of HSR Express lines connecting cities and states into an integrated system.  Our plan sets high standards for interoperable state-of-the-art dedicated track, advanced control systems, elegant multi-modal train stations, and top-of-the-line 220 mph trains connecting major cities together.  Our plan calls for a support network of 110 mph trains connecting smaller cities and towns together with the high speed system.” Click here for more from the US High Speed Rail Association.

A route between Tulsa and the state capital has been talked about for years. KTUL quotes Brian Bigbie, Economic Planner for the Indian Nation Council of Governments (INCOG) saying,  “You want to make sure that there are enough people that will utilize it, beyond just the novelty of it. That they would use it regularly almost on daily, or two or three times a week.”

While understandable and reasonably true, Bigbie sounds like a critic of the BOK Center in 2003. That facility has proven itself tremendously successful thus humiliating the many naysayers’ lack of vision for the City of Tulsa.

Jon M. McGrath

The KTUL report also features Tulsa businessman Jon M. McGrath who operates McGrath Construction, a company that’s been designing, building and maintaining railroads, since 1865.

He said this area needs to position itself to be a part of any future network because transportation choices are important.

The rail network has been discussed as an alternative to crowded interstate highways and overbooked airlines. McGrath said the U.S. needs to embrace modern rail technology that’s in use all over the world.

McGrath said, “We’re talking about a modern rail system that would be 220 miles per hour. It would take about 24 minutes to get to OKC from Tulsa.”

Tulsans could go to Oklahoma City for dinner and be back home in time for the 10 o’clock news.

McGrath said there are a lot of ways to attack financial issues.

Design by Hassell, Australian High Speed Vehicle

He noted that in Texas rail lines are being built with a partnership between public and private interests.

The private companies are doing most of the construction.

He added in Oklahoma the state could provide the right of way, and let private companies create the system.

“This is a multigenerational asset for America that must include Tulsa. Imagine if we were not included in the Interstate Highway System – that is exactly what it would be like. The economic and cultural impact would be devastating and our growth greatly limited,” McGrath told Tulsa Today.

Click here for the KTUL report.

Amtrak and BNSF Railway conducted a public relations inspection trip from Oklahoma City to Kansas City June 9, 2017 as “the next step toward restoring passenger rail service between Texas and Kansas City” according to a report in The Oklahoman.

“This inspection train is a preliminary step in potentially restoring a significant gap for passenger rail service that has existed since Amtrak eliminated the line between Oklahoma City and Kansas City in 1979 due to budget cuts.

“From Oklahoma City south to Fort Worth, Texas, daily passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak thanks to a joint operating agreement with the Oklahoma and Texas departments of transportation,” wrote The OklahomanClick here for the Oklahoman report.