The State Transportation Director, Gary Ridley, says Oklahoma officials are reviewing the latest FRA documents in consideration of making an application for high speed rail funding. The Daily Oklahoman story indicates that the Sooner State may be part of the South Central HSR corridor. TFA thinks they are mistaken, but that should not hold back a qualified application.
“We need to look at the guidance and understand it fully before putting together our response,” Ridley said after the state Transportation Commission met Monday.
The Transportation Department already owns a portion of the railway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but updates would be needed to make the track conducive to high-speed travel, Ridley said.
“It’s rough country up there,” he said.
A study conducted nine years ago estimated it would cost at least $950 million to run passenger rail between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Today, that could be closer to $1.5 billion, Ridley said.
Although unlikely to be selected as a demonstration project, The Oklahoma City-Tulsa corridor is a natural for HSR.
- driving distance is about 100 miles
- state owns much of the existing rail line (which needs lots of work)
- state owns turnpike right-of-way (could this land be used? It’s straight as an arrow.)
- Oklahoma City pop. 1,200,000 plus
- Tulsa pop.685,000
- interfaces with an upgraded Heartland Flyer service to DFW.
The quality of public transportation in both cities would be an important factor and that is a subject on which I am not able to comment. It seems to make sense that Oklahoma should get moving on improving the existing track to “high performance rail” standards and start operating in the 100 mph range.
Oh, look at that! 100 miles at 100 mph gives you a travel time of about one-hour end-to-end. Why haven’t they figuted this out already? And here’s the good part; it would not cost anything approaching the afore mentioned $1.5 billion.
The total construction on this is probably more like $250 million. Trains departing each end on the hour all day and scheduled at a running time of around 75 minutes is a big winner.
Oklahoma should forget European-style HSR and get moving on “high performance rail” tomorrow. It will change that already vibrant region forever.