Trains Could Be Answer To Street Problems

Tuesday, May 20th 2008, 6:56 pm
By: News On 6

As the city council works on a plan to repair the streets, a look to the future might have Tulsans riding the train.

The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports downtown and all of Tulsa's streets are a mess, but there is at least a plan to repair them over more than a dozen years. An urban planner says Tulsa could build a downtown link on a rail line that could be going in just four years.

The solution to Tulsa's street repair problem might be answered in part by having people ride the rails.

Urban planner Jack Crowley says a rail line would build up the density of Tulsa's population and that would help the city's bottom line.

"The rail is the only thing that creates density.  Automobiles tend to spread a city out and the automobile is not going away," said Crowley.

The message comes just as city councilors fine tune a $1 billion plan to build and repair streets.

Councilor Bill Martinson is the architect of the plan. He too believes Tulsa needs to look for ways to get people around without building bigger streets.

"We haven't done a very good job of maintaining the infrastructure we have and the more you expand the more burden you place on the infrastructure from a maintenance perspective so to the extent that we can reduce that sprawl the better off we are," said Martinson.

Tulsa has considered several plans for a rail line as a way to cut ozone pollution, or save fuel, and cut down on traffic.

Crowley says the biggest benefit might be how it attracts people to live and build businesses closer to the center of town.

"The interesting thing about rail is that it represents the original alignment of the city, so it passes through the oldest part of the city which are the most ready for redevelopment," said Crowley.

The street plan will be on the ballot July 29th. It's a combination of sales and property taxes. It does not have money for the rail.