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Alternate route

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The MAPS 3
Citizens Advisory Board voted Jan. 26 to recommend the City Council
approve purchase of the Santa Fe Train Depot to serve as a convergence
for several modes of transportation in the city, including car, rail,
bicycle and possibly bus.

The
city already set aside $10 million of the $127 million in MAPS 3
streetcar funding to pay for the acquisition and streetcar-related
improvements to the station. 

But
a setback came in late December, when the city learned its application
was denied for $17 million from a federal Transportation Investment
Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) III grant. That money was to
constitute the majority of $26 million in funding for the city’s planned
intermodal transportation hub.

right, An artist's rendering of the hub

An
earlier study named the historic rail station at 100 S. E.K. Gaylord as
the best location for that hub for a variety of transportation modes,
making it, as one consultant on the project said, the “Grand Central
Station for Oklahoma.”

The plan
The
three phases of hub construction were estimated to cost around $127
million, spread between federal and state funding, as well as among
several cities participating in the regional transit plan.

The grant application laid out the city’s early plans for the hub:

—E.K.
Gaylord plaza: an entrance and plaza running on the east side of
Gaylord

—E.K. Gaylord streetcar: a streetcar stop at the front of the
hub

—Bricktown plaza: a pedestrian thoroughfare under the existing
elevated tracks, connecting downtown to Bricktown near the Bricktown
canal’s westernmost termination point, which ends in a fountain. The
plaza would contain green space and connect the hub to water taxis on
the canal

—Renovations and acquisition of Santa Fe Train Depot
—Renovations to the southern Amtrak station in Santa Fe Train Depot

Moving on
As
part of the TIGER III application, the city put up $6.1 million in MAPS
3 funds and secured $2 million in funding from the Association of
Central Oklahoma Governments and $1 million from the state Department of
Transportation.

The
amount of MAPS 3 money is enough to cover the estimated $9 million for
property acquisition and Phase I property improvements.

Eric Wenger, OKC public works director, said the grant denial is not a setback.

“It’s done, it’s gone and we’ve moved on from that,” he said at the MAPS 3 streetcar subcommittee meeting on Jan. 25.

Jane
Abraham, community and government affairs manager in the city manager’s
office, said in terms of the local funding, the ACOG money may need to
be reapplied for, while the ODOT portion was an in-kind donation of
nearby land to be used for parking.

Abraham
said the city is working to apply for another federal grant for about
$2.5 million for work on E.K. Gaylord Boulevard that hopefully would
benefit some plans for the hub.

Wenger
noted that there is no definitive timeline for the additional
improvements. He said the city is going to continue seeking additional
funding for the project.

“We’re
looking at every opportunity to engage and look at alternate sources of
funding for all of our transit areas, all of the areas around the hub
or streetcar, and will continue to do so,” Wenger said.

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