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ODOT Holds Public Meeting To Discuss Passenger Rail Between OKC, Tulsa

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ODOT held the first of three public meetings to discuss the issue Tuesday. ODOT held the first of three public meetings to discuss the issue Tuesday.
The new Arkansas River Interstate 244 bridge was built to carry more than just cars and trucks. Railroad tracks could be on that bridge someday. The new Arkansas River Interstate 244 bridge was built to carry more than just cars and trucks. Railroad tracks could be on that bridge someday.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

How would you like to hop on a train and be in Oklahoma City in less than an hour?

Engineers with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation are trying to make that a reality.

ODOT held the first of three public meetings to discuss the issue Tuesday.

The only train coming in and out of Tulsa for now is a freight train.

ODOT is looking at the area along the Interstate 44/Turner Turnpike corridor to develop a high-speed rail system.

8/11/2013 Related Story: Public Meetings To Discuss Oklahoma Passenger Rail Service Begin This Week

Right now, the state owns the Sooner Sub, which runs from Sapulpa to Oklahoma City, but it doesn't carry passengers.

"What they're trying to do for one thing is to try to sell that track. That's the most immediate concern," said Bob Rounsavell, with Passenger Rail Oklahoma.

The state would require any new buyer to offer passenger service.

Engineers are hopeful public input and their studies will help determine what type of rail system would connect Oklahoma's two largest cities. Supporters say the connection would provide a link to Amtrak's Heartland Flyer in OKC.

"I'm excited about the fact that we've got $3 million in federal funds to do a true analysis of this corridor and we're going to be able to put the resources in and provide people the answers they've been looking for," said David Streb, of ODOT.

"They'll definitely have to get more input, got to get all the stakeholders to the table and see what legitimately and logistically can be done, given the dollars that are available and not available," said Tulsa resident Scott Gaffen.

One thing's for sure, ODOT sees a future for the rail system coming right into downtown Tulsa.

The new Arkansas River Interstate 244 bridge was built to carry more than just cars and trucks. Railroad tracks could be on that bridge someday.

"If it sits here in committee forever, just looking at the timelines, they're looking to 2016 and everything, you know, hopefully a plan will be put together that we can start rallying around," Gaffen said.

ODOT says the study will take two years to complete.

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