What's Missing?

Letter, OKLAHOMA GAZETTE, 3-30-05, Page 8

To the Editor --

The map at the top of Page 12 above Deborah Benjamin's excellent article "Moving Forward" (Gazette, 3-2-05) plainly, inescapably reveals OKC Union Station to be the center, not only of the region's amazing network of existing rail lines, but of the COTPA / Carter Burgess Engineering transit study area.

Despite detailed mention on their outfit's website of the successful reuse of Dallas and Denver's historic Union Stations as centers for new regional transit systems, the Carter Burgess presenters did not include OKC Union Station in their public presentations -- although it has often been pronounced at least equal to their own by those cities' transit officials. When pressed, however, Carter Burgess officials said "they will not enter the debate over the proposed relocation of the I-40 Crosstown" and its obvious destruction of the irreplaceable Union Station rail yard. Could it be that Carter Burgess is a lot more interested in "more business from ODOT" than in providing a righteous regional transit study?

Plainly, if Oklahomans do not demand better, their $800,000 will not buy a REAL transit study, but, rather, "sort of a study" functionally abridged by the state's highway lobby for purposes of limiting transit development or crushing it altogether. Trouble is, we've already had one of those, in the form of the fabled "Parsons Brinkerhoff Fixed Guideway Study" of a little more than a decade ago, a key reason central Oklahomans have no alternative to autos and high gasoline prices today.

The Union Station Terminal building was purchased in 1989 by OKC Metro Transit with a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. It was supposed to be our regional transit center, and with its mix of street and rail access was and is clearly ideal for that purpose. However, for reasons not revealed to the public, that plan was never realized -- so, today the last grand urban rail passenger yard in the West with all its original space intact is threatened with complete obliteration to make way for the last thing this state needs -- five more miles of highway we can neither afford to build or maintain.

Intelligent reuse of existing central rail stations and rail corridors is what has made new transit systems affordable in Dallas, Denver, and other Western cities. If Central Oklahomans want a reasonably priced, highly effective transit system, there's only one issue -- and that's the future of OKC Union Station's rail yard and its lines. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Executive Director
PO Box 6617
Oklahoma City, OK  73153-0617
Tel: 405 794 7163
Fax: 405 799 2641