The Norman Transcript

November 18, 2013

Association gaining feedback for metro area commuter study

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Shoppers or commuters could hop on a commuter train or a rapid transit bus to get from Norman to a job in downtown Oklahoma City or could come from downtown OKC to shop on Campus Corner in the future if a current study proves mass transit is a viable option for central Oklahoma.

The Association for Central Oklahoma Governments hosted the first in a series of public meetings in the metro area Monday to gain feedback for the Commuter Corridors Study, a comprehensive analysis of potential public transportation options and routes.

The study is looking at three corridors that connect to downtown Oklahoma City. The south corridor is the longest at 17 miles and runs from Norman through Moore to OKC.

A proposed 14 mile-long north corridor connects Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City. A 10-mile east corridor connects Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base to downtown.

The Commuter Corridors Study, also known as CentralOK!go, will consider commuter rail, light rail, modern streetcar, bus rapid transit and express bus to find a “locally preferred alternative” for the riders in central Oklahoma.

“The goal for the project is to determine in three separate corridors … the viability of high-capacity transit,” said Diane Cowin, environmental planning manager at URS Corporation.

Project consultants with URS and ACOG staff answered questions and discussed informational displays and corridor maps with the visiting public at the open house Monday evening at the Moore Norman Technology Center. Surveys also were handed out. The feedback collected from those surveys will be tallied as part of the analysis.

The Regional Transit Dialogue was initiated by ACOG in 2009 and “engages locally elected officials, policy stakeholders, private sector leaders and the general public,” Cowin said.

“We really wanted to come to you with a lot of information,” Cowin said during a brief presentation.

The study will attempt to answer key questions.

“What are people in the community looking for in this type of transit system?” Cowin said. “Where are people going to and coming from? Are they going from home to work? Are they going to a hospital?”

Various modes of transportation and vehicles will be measured against goals and objectives and cost versus benefit.

“What makes the most sense?” Cowin said. “A lot of times, if you’ve got existing rail, commuter rail makes sense.”

Commuter rail runs on existing active freight tracts, while light rail or street car type of transit may need rails to be constructed. Bus rapid transit uses “nicer buses for longer trips than a local bus would,” Cowin said.

ACOG and its partners will perform a high-level analysis and a fatal flaw analysis, will document results and then will focus on the best alternatives to move forward. Cost estimates will be done for operation and maintenance — ongoing costs — and capital costs — up-front investments.

Eventually, a model will be developed to predict ridership and where people will get on, how many people will use the system and where those people will be going.

“To me, commuter rail connecting the metro makes the most sense,” said Norman City Council member Stephen Tyler Holman, who attended the event.

Holman said because the rail is pre-existing, commuter rail is a more fiscally viable alternative.

“I think we should also look at the connection to the (Will Rogers World) airport,” he said.

Meeting locations are accessible for people with disabilities. ACOG will provide reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Call 234-2264 for more information.

For more information about the study, visit centralokgo.org.

Joy Hampton

366-3544

jhampton@

normantranscript.com

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