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Oklahoma River to gain three transportation boats



Former Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick announced today three boats will begin cruising the OklahomaRiver later this year.


Acting as the chair of the River Trust, Norick's riverside announcement included Devon Energy's $2 million commitment to bring three 65-foot-long, 14-foot-wide boats "? which will be called Devon Discoveries -- to the OklahomaRiver.


Norick imagines the Meridian Boat Landing area "? located off SW 15th Street, east of Meridian Avenue "? to develop commercially.


"I look at the river the way I looked at Bricktown 10 or so years ago," Norick said. "Where's it going? I don't know, but within 10 to 15 years, I don't think we will recognize it."


Norick said the boats will begin regular 40-minute trips along three stops in spring 2008: the Meridian Boat Landing, near the stockyards and Regatta Landing. Eventually, there will be routes to the American Indian Cultural Center (which will be located on Eastern Avenue), the State Fairgrounds, the DowntownAirPark and the Dell campus.


The boats will accommodate 49 passengers and will have heat and air conditioning.


Norick listed three groups who have come together on the transportation project: the City of Oklahoma City, Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority and the River Trust.


"There are three pieces: MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) to fund the river redevelopment, a federal piece and private dollars," Norick said.


Serving primarily as alternate transportation linking the hotels in the Interstate 40-Meridian Avenue area to Downtown Oklahoma City and the Bricktown entertainment district, the first boat will arrive in October and the second in November with the third one in Spring 2008. Scarano Boat Builders in Albany, N.Y. are constructing the vessels for $1 million each.


Norick said the boats will be available for private parties during the fall.


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