Oklahoma Loses Out on High-Speed Rail Stimulus Grants
President Obama announced Thursday that Oklahoma is not one of the recipients of the $8 billion in stimulus grants being used for high-speed rail projects.
By Alex Cameron, OKLAHOMA IMPACT TEAM
OKLAHOMA CITY -- President Barack Obama announced the recipients of $8 billion in stimulus grants for high-speed rail projects Thursday, and NEWS 9's Oklahoma Impact Team has learned Oklahoma will not be getting any of the funding.
Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation confirmed the news Thursday afternoon expressing disappointment that the state will not get any of the funding. ODOT submitted an application last October 1 for $2 billion of the federal grant money to create a high-speed rail corridor between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and to make improvements to the existing Heartland Flyer route.
According to news reports, the big winners of the grant money are California, Florida and Illinois. Specifically, California will receive $2.3 billion to begin work on an 800-mile-long, high-speed rail line tying Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles and San Diego. Florida is getting $1.25 billion to build a rail line connecting Tampa on the West Coast with Orlando in the middle of the state, eventually going south to Miami. Illinois and Missouri are getting $1.1 billion to improve a rail line between Chicago and St. Louis so that trains can travel up to 110 mph.
ODOT was hoping to use the money to, first and foremost, provide high-speed rail service between downtown Tulsa and downtown Oklahoma City along the Interstate 44 Turner Turnpike corridor. The project would have included the construction of new overpasses, new signaling and the acquisition of new equipment. Money would also have been used to make improvements along the Heartland Flyer route: rail crossing upgrades, switch improvements, and double track between Oklahoma City and Norman.
State transportation officials said the application was worth the effort and they continue to look at opportunities to improve and expand rail service in the state. ODOT has committed up to $125,000 to assist Kansas with a study looking at the possibility of extending passenger rail service from Oklahoma City north to Wichita and Kansas City, allowing riders to connect more easily with Amtrak's northern routes.
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