Lawmaker excited about high-speed rail service designation

Friday, October 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The designation of a high-speed rail corridor from Fort Worth, Texas, to Oklahoma City to Tulsa means much-needed aid for a state-owned rail line, a state lawmaker said Thursday.

"This is the designation we wanted. This now gives us the opportunity to get money to fix that line from Oklahoma City to Tulsa," said Sen. Dave Herbert, D-Midwest City, the leading legislative advocate of passenger train service.

The U.S. Transportation Department announced the designation Wednesday.

Oklahoma now has Amtrak passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth.

The state owns a rail line from Oklahoma City to Sapulpa and has a commitment from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to use the line from Sapulpa into Tulsa, but the line needs upgrading.

Herbert said the repairs are estimated to cost about $28 million.

State officials won't know probably for at least two weeks how much money is available for Oklahoma, said Herbert and Joe Kyle, rail programs manager for the state Transportation Department.

Oklahoma will share $5.25 million in federal funds with other states with routes receiving the formal designation of a high-speed rail corridor.

Kyle said there are indications that that amount might be increased.

"I'm really excited about it. I feel real good about our chances of getting some significant money," Kyle said.

More money for states with high-speed rail designations would be available if Congress passes a bill that would help Amtrak raise $10 billion over 10 years to make improvements to accommodate higher speeds.

Herbert said that legislation is pending.

"It has been up and down, the best I can tell," Herbert said.

"Even if that doesn't make it, the designation of high-speed corridor gives us access to federal funds we weren't able to get before."