Getting to Tulsa is going to cost a little more once toll prices increase Aug. 4. So how much would you pay to take a high speed train from downtown Oklahoma City to downtown Tulsa?
That’s an option that’s on the table as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation vies for a piece of an $8 billion pie that would allow the state to upgrade it’s rails for high speed usage. Under plans from the Federal Railroad Administration, Oklahoma would be part of a corridor that starts in Tulsa, ends south in San Antonio and east in Little Rock, Ark.
Sounds promising, especially for music fans who are bleary-eyed and traveling to the BOK Center for shows or folks heading south to the Ford Center for a Thunder game. ODOT has applied for funding. They will know in the next few weeks if their request is worthwhile and can submit a final application by Aug. 24. Although construction and improvement of the rails for trains could take up to a decade to complete.
The state already has passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, on the Heartland Flyer. That train stops along the way at smaller southern Oklahoma city, giving folks another alternative to the I-35 trek and bringing tourists to quaint downtown districts in Ardmore or other cities along the way.
While high speed rail is years in the future, I wonder if the train would continue its stops along the way. Would a route between Oklahoma City and Tulsa include stops in Stroud? Would the rail line be enough to breath life into the often desolate stretch between Oklahoma’s two metropolitan cities?
High speed trains in Europe, where it has been widely used for decades, usually don’t stop in every little town along the way. Towns along the route aren’t benefitting from the service. But it sure is nice to go from Barcelona to Valencia in just a few hours.
Improved passenger rail service in Oklahoma almost seems like a pipe dream. It would be a great way to modernize transit in this state. And maybe we could do away with that pesky turnpike rivalry that can become so tiresome. Could high speed rail unite the state? Maybe that’s another pipe dream.