View Full Version : How about some heavy rail?

Doug Loudenback
05-05-2008, 11:08 PM
Check it out! Is this too cool, or what? City attractions on track to be tied by train | (

City attractions on track to be tied by train
By Steve Lackmeyer
Business Writer

Plans are moving forward for an excursion train between the Adventure District and Bricktown, with organizers announcing Monday they have obtained funding for a $625,000 stop at NE 50 and Grand Boulevard.

The excursion train restored by the Oklahoma Railway Museum is able to make only out and back trips from the organization's Oakwood Station at NE 36 and Grand Boulevard.

When the new stop is completed this summer, travelers will have the option of getting off at NE 50. They then can hop on a shuttle operated by Remington Park that also serves the Oklahoma City Zoo, Science Museum Oklahoma and other Adventure District attractions.

With the NE 50 stop complete, organizers say the next task is to extend the route into Bricktown.

"When we have the opportunity to have visitors who are staying downtown, and they want to go to attractions in the Adventure District, they'll be able to do so by train,” said Harry Currie, director of the Oklahoma Railway Museum. "This will be another addition for the whole community.”

Looking at the future

On Monday, top contributors and representatives of the Adventure District gathered for a tour of the new route, which passes through the Lincoln Park Golf Course and adjoins the new upscale Rose Rock neighborhood.

Courtney Gutekunst, coordinator of the Adventure District, thinks the train could be key to linking the area, anchored by the zoo, several museums, Remington Park and the Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, with Bricktown. The Adventure District is visited by an estimated 3 million people a year, while Bricktown has previously estimated its visitor count at 10 million a year.

"There is huge potential whenever this train track is completed for trains to go from the museum, then north to the Adventure District attractions, and then south to Bricktown,” Gutekunst said. "It really could be huge.”

Lee Allan Smith, a longtime community fundraiser and chairman of centennial projects and events, said efforts to create the excursion train service go back more than 20 years to when he visited with then-Mayor Andy Coats about acquiring old Santa Fe Railway tracks between the Adventure District and downtown.

The NE 50 and Grand train stop was made possible, Smith said, largely by the donation of land by Ben Kates, the owner of Midwest Wrecking.

Passengers aboard the train Monday included Joe Kyle, who reported numbers on Amtrak's Heartland Flyer passenger service to Fort Worth, Texas, are matching the best reported since the service was relaunched several years ago. Kyle, head of the railway division at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, worked with the state Centennial Commission to clear up access to tracks into Bricktown, and he predicted the excursion train will experience similar popularity with travelers.

"It's a really good trip. It connects a vibrant part of Oklahoma City with another vibrant part of Oklahoma City. I would really like to see it happen.”
By the way, if you've not been to the Oklahoma Railway Museum, I recommend that you do ...

Some pics are in my Trains 2 article ... Doug Dawgz Blog: Okc Trains Part 2 (

05-06-2008, 12:24 AM
This is good news. A few things though. What's the train going to look like? Will it have a sweet paint job or be a lot of random cars like they use now? I just wouldn't want a vital link to be operated like it is now. the title of this thread indicates...will there eventually be heavy rail installed? I know that a lot of the track that is in place now was laid down by volunteers of the ORM. Their work is duly noted but a percentage of the ticket costs on this thing need to go to upgrading these tracks.

Also, the end point station is to be at 50th & Grand. Will it spur off from just before the end of the current line and veer off to the northwest to the aforementioned station?

Last but not least, it was stated earlier in the article about Santa Fe Railway tracks that went to the adventure district 20 years ago?? Where?? I've never seen those tracks on any map.

Doug Loudenback
05-06-2008, 12:32 AM
Good questions ... for Steve!

05-06-2008, 09:01 AM
Nice. Not sure how I missed this. Anyhow, they proposed this a few years back, glad to see it getting off the ground, although much slower than they thought:

05-06-2008, 09:35 AM
Yeah right. People ride the water taxis and they go nowhere. This goes somewhere. It actually has some tourist appeal, in that you can travel a (sort of) unique way, you don't have to drive, and there are actual attractions at each end of it. This has more potential right now than the riverboats.

05-06-2008, 09:57 AM
Fantastic idea.

There has always been a bit of a problem with getting out-of-towners to the Adventure District because there are few hotels and no good ones (for the main reason not many people want to stay in that area).

So now, we can continue to build hotels in the downtown area that would service conventions and business travelers but also allow tourists an easy and fun way to go see these other great attractions. It's a shame that people staying downtown probably don't often consider the zoo.

I wonder if there is any way to expand service to the capitol complex? The Oklahoma History Museum is vastly under utilized.

05-06-2008, 10:27 AM
Even when they add the Bricktown connection we are only talking about a 5-6 mile run. However could this possibly be the early stages of light rail? If this proves to be popular, and really gets used, it could do wonders for a light rail push.

05-06-2008, 07:05 PM
Is it me or did this just come out of nowhere?

05-06-2008, 08:47 PM
OKC's future heavy rail system

05-06-2008, 09:18 PM
Is it me or did this just come out of nowhere?

We've talked about this/article was on it a year or two back. It's been in the works for several years now.

05-06-2008, 10:47 PM
This is a car city. You folks are dreaming, and if your plans come to fruition, it will be a huge failure, and a huge waste of tax-payer money.

05-06-2008, 10:55 PM
This is a car city. You folks are dreaming, and if your plans come to fruition, it will be a huge failure, and a huge waste of tax-payer money.

At $5 a gallon for gasoline, things start changing. My daughter lives in Atlanta. A year ago, she could barely tell you where the MARTA station was and she looked down her nose at it. Now, she's a regular, as is her roommate. They can get to work more cheaply and quicker on MARTA.

Now, I think light rail would need to be done with great care and forethought. We also need enough of the population working downtown or at other destinations to make it worthwhile. But I think it's as foolish to assume it won't work, as to assume it will be a raging success. This is not a static situation we have with availability and price of fuel, and when something like it changes dramatically enough, so will behaviors we think are set in stone.

05-07-2008, 01:36 AM
This is a car city. You folks are dreaming, and if your plans come to fruition, it will be a huge failure, and a huge waste of tax-payer money.

Exactly what they said in Denver, Dallas, Houston, etc. Every city that has built rail lines, both light and heavy, has seen more riders than they expected. The majority of OKCitians will still use cars but they will have a second option, especially around downtown with light rail connecting two huge employment centers, OUHSC and the CBD, and commuter rail linking suburbs and the airport to downtown. This Adventure District rail line would mainly serve tourists but it's a start.

05-07-2008, 01:52 AM
Jsenter, do you watch national news? Rail ridership is up double digit percentages all over the country. Your contribution to this forum is a monumental failure.

sgt. pepper
05-07-2008, 07:20 AM
Jsenter,Your contribution to this forum is a monumental failure.
I could not have said it better myself.

05-07-2008, 03:19 PM
This is a car city. You folks are dreaming, and if your plans come to fruition, it will be a huge failure, and a huge waste of tax-payer money.

Yes, because it's always best to just leave problems to get worse without trying to address them. That mentality has gotten people SO far. </sarcasm> I recognize that we're a car city now, but that's something that we have to change if we're to grow in the future. I have no intention of paying these outrageous gas prices forever, and if OKC doesn't get a decent rail system then I'll move somewhere that does.

05-07-2008, 03:23 PM
This is a car city. You folks are dreaming, and if your plans come to fruition, it will be a huge failure, and a huge waste of tax-payer money.

Hi J,

It might help if you re-read this particular article. While I agree with you that "we" are a car city, and that "we" might have issues if and when a "light rail" initiative comes to pass, this initiative is geared more for tourists. Folks visiting and staying downtown for conventions, ball games, concerts, sporting events and other events may very likely be without a car.

To connect two MAJOR TOURIST DESTINATIONS is a smart move IMO. This specific initiative has nothing to do with general movement of our car traffic.

05-07-2008, 03:28 PM
This is a car city. You folks are dreaming, and if your plans come to fruition, it will be a huge failure, and a huge waste of tax-payer money

It would be no bigger of a waste of tax payer money than building more and more roads to nowhere so that the city can expand, so that we have to build more and more roads, so that the city can... and on and on and on.

Of course, it's a car city right now. What's the alternative? And, of course, it's a dream. It's a dream that in 30 years we're not strapped to our cars in traffic like every other "car city".

The funny thing is that you seem to deride what Oklahoma City is and, at the same time, any suggestion of how it could be made better. So, basically, it sucks now and anything done to change it sucks, too. You know, that must suck for you.