As part of a plan to enhance the state's rail service that kicked off last summer with the Heartland Flyer, northern Oklahoma may soon be the newest link to the national railway system, according to State Senator Paul Muegge, D- Tonkawa.
A public meeting to discuss the possible railway corridors is scheduled for 6:30 pm, Thursday, February 24 at the Performing Arts Center at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa. The meeting was previously scheduled to be held at the Walcher Center. The presentation by Tom Shelton of Carter Burgess in Dallas is expected to show some of the findings of the feasibility study of rail service in the state.
"A passenger rail line through northern Oklahoma would be great news for the people in these communities," said Muegge. "Access to passenger service in this area would open the options for transportation through the state, and I hope everyone will come and participate in this meeting."
Although there are several different corridors being considered for railway provisions, the northern route would include service from Oklahoma City to Ponca City and on north to Newton, Kansas, where it would link into the national rail system. Other possible routes include Tulsa, going east and Tulsa going west to Oklahoma City.
"The very successful opening of the Heartland Flyer route between Oklahoma City and Dallas last year really showed that Oklahomans support rail service and it's my hope that we can expand service to accommodate more of the state," said Muegge.
According to Shelton, there are several things that are considered when determining corridor feasibility. The existing railway's physical condition, the level of daily freight activity, the station's location and condition, the capital cost for improvement and the estimate of ridership numbers are all factors examined when choosing a new rail route.
Senator Muegge is confident Oklahomans will voice their support for the renewal of rail travel as a viable option in Oklahoma.
"Travel by train has dwindled and has been lost in the shadow of high speed commuter trains, airplanes and cars," said Muegge. "Bringing train service back to the state that will link into the national rail line will bring Oklahoma many rewards in accessibility and economic stimulation."