When I was on my senior trip a few years ago, me and my parents went to France, which is a country I like to joke about a lot. That aside, they have some really great sayings there. One of the biggest culture shocks is that in Paris people are NOT clamoring to provide a million expensive services to you, in fact, they make it a pain in the ass. When you sit down in restaurants, a waiter will not automatically greet you and all that good stuff, but you have to ASK to eat and literally hail a waiter. "Those who ask..eat." I actually like that because it is very similar to life, where the only way usually to get what you want is to ask for it, something most Americans do not understand.
For years we've all been complaining about the state of public transit in Oklahoma, and the simple fact that we need to invest way more than we currently are, into the system. This goes true for the city level, state level, and the federal level, which oddly enough for most municipalities that do things right, federal money is the key ingredient. Well, no more (hopefully). ODOT made the first step towards, for the first time ever, formally requesting federal funding for a bona fide Oklahoma high-speed rail link. Not only will it extend the Heartland Flyer up to Tulsa, but it will also include massive upgrades for the existing Heartland Flyer at least down to the Red River, if not all the way to Fort Worth, enabling the entire system to be high-speed.
Top speeds between OKC and Fort Worth would reach 90 mph and an average of over 60 mph (currently the top speed is 79 with an average of 50), while top speeds between OKC and Tulsa would reach 150 mph and an average speed of over 110 mph. This is the future. No longer will Amtrak service for Oklahoma only go to Fort Worth, and no longer will Tulsa be the largest city in the nation not served by Amtrak.
ODOT's cost estimates for the project come in just under $2 billion, a fraction of the $13 billion in federal funds Obama has identified in order to get the ball rolling on high-speed rail. If approved (which in all likelihood, it will be approved for funding, it's just a matter of it covering half of the cost or more, or all..even though the application does NOT require a state match) work could begin in 2010 and riders could be on the system by 2016, which IMO is a pretty aggressive timetable--the kind of thing I like to see for long-overdue projects such as this. Helping the likelihood funding will be secured, is that the ODOT proposal follows exactly what the Obama administration laid out for the South-Central Corridor.
I'd also like to remind folks that we would already have light rail in OKC if a certain former (local!) Congressman had not blocked federal funding that we surely would have gotten to supplement Maps 1. To that extent, it's nice to see that state agencies are once again being proactive in attempting to secure federal funds that as we can see with the Stimulus (not to mention all the other cities that got fed $$ for rail), are just there for the taking.