Rail Transit Feasible, Costly

Some form of rapid transit between Broken Arrow and Tulsa is, indeed, feasible.
That is the word from Dallas-based Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, the transportation engineering firm hired last October by Tulsa Transit to study the situation.
Operations Manager Timothy Schmidt of LA & N spoke at public hearings in both BA and Tulsa Thursday, outlining possibilities.
Exactly how to pay for startup plans that range in price from $19 million to $38 million is as yet undermined, said Schmidt. Those cost estimates do not include the purchase of land or rights-of-way, or the cost of annual maintenance.
Tulsa Transit Chief Executive Officer Bill Cartwright pointed to Oklahoma City’s plans to build transport to and from Norman – “and they don’t have an existing rail system like there is here.”
Based on study results comparing seven similar U.S. cities and various other factors, Schmidt estimates potential commuter usage to range between 1,200 to 4,200 riders daily, increasing to 1,500 to 5,000 by the year 2030.
Those numbers do not reflect the possible impact of gasoline prices, Cartwright said.
Commuter rail
A commuter rail line between BA and Tulsa downtowns would mean utilization of existing Union-Pacific Railroad tracks currently used for freight.
To utilize these for passenger service would involve significant welding to comply with federal mandates, said Schmidt.
Stations for such a system are proposed for downtown BA, and in Tulsa at Memorial Drive and 41st Street, Sheridan Road and Skelly Drive, Lewis Avenue and 13th Street and at or near Union Station.
The commuter rail option would involve the improvement of 31 signal crossings, signal upgrade, crossing gateways and other improvements, he said. “However, the railroad here is really not in bad shape.”
Bus option
A bus rapid transit – BRT – option would involve using dedicated lanes on the Broken Arrow Expressway with the possibility of creating a shoulder-running lane without impacting existing traffic lanes.
Another BRT option involves the building of a “contra flow” 5-mile-long movable barrier which would twice daily temporarily divert a lane of BA Expressway traffic for use by the greater flow of vehicles during rush hours.
One other option, described by INCOG official Tim Archer as “a political headache,” is the dedication of a travel lane on the BA Expressway for the exclusive use of carpools and high-capacity buses.
The LA & N study is “75 percent complete,” said Schmidt. Full results are expected by the end of March.
Schmidt invites public input and listed his e-mail address as tjschmidt@lan-inc.com.
For more information, visit www.tulsatransit.org. A community survey is available at the site and Cartwright invites public participation.

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