Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oklahoma City OKs streetcar line

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Add Oklahoma City to the list of U.S. municipalities advancing streetcar plans. In a 5-to-3 vote Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, the City Council approved advancing a 4.5-mile, $130 million plan as part of the city's MAPS 3 project.

The current planned route, local media suggest, resembles the letter "Z." Current estimates call for the line to begin revenue service in 2017.

"The streetcar will connect all the civic institutions together," said streetcar advocate Jeff Bezdek. "You will be able to get anywhere downtown and park once."

Perhaps predictably, 11 Oklahoma City citizens objected to the plan during the City Council meeting, saying it would fail to attract riders because its ridershed reach is limited to downtown. "We're gonna pay for it and tourists are going to enjoy most of it," one resident reportedly said, failing to clarify why such an outcome in itself might be a negative.

But Bezdek countered, "We want to build exactly what the people voted on." And planners note extensions can be added to address concerns of limited reach.