After three years of planning and debate, the MAPS 3 streetcar project may soon have a route that travels by all key destinations in downtown and Midto
Before that happens, however, a public meeting Monday will give Oklahoma City citizens a chance to comment on the four options consulting firm Jacobs Engineering presented during a June 26 streetcar subcommittee meeting.
The four alternative routes connect areas of Midtown, the central business district and Bricktown. The particular streets traveled and direction of traffic flow are among the differences with the proposed options.
With a phase one streetcar budget of $94 million, the options range in price from $91 million to $109 million. A route identified as Zeta Plus scored highest among the variables used by the consultants, including key destination service, integration with the existing transportation network, expansion potential and technical considerations. The Zeta Plus cost is estimated at $97 million to $107 million.
The 4.4-mile-long Zeta Plus option is the only proposal that touches the future downtown public park.
Subcommittee chairman Nathaniel Harding said he was pleased with all of the would-be routes.
“They hit all the landmarks, the residential and commercial uses and are very user-friendly,” he said. “They (consultants) analyzed every angle.”
With more work remaining before a final decision, Harding said he knows the route ultimately approved could encompass parts from multiple options.
“It’s getting exciting about now,” he said. “If there were any differences, it’s all been worked out.”
Not everyone agrees. Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid and Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, both of whom attended the June 26 meeting, don’t believe any of the routes will be successful.
“What makes streetcars so successful is a large pedestrian presence,” Shadid said. “You don’t build streetcars and then the pedestrians appear. I don’t think any of the four will have substantial ridership.” White contends streetcar analysis, planning and development was flawed from the beginning.
“Why go to Bricktown? Why Broadway? Why Midtown when you already have development?” he said.
White said he thinks the streetcar route should be established where economic development has not reached its pinnacle.
“This is going to wind up being ugly,” he said. “If you polled the city council today, you’d find people saying, ‘Stop it now and let’s work on another vetted project.’ On the other end, you’d have people saying, ‘This is wonderful and let’s get it on the fast track now.’ There is no clear constituency one way or the other.”
Both councilmen argue that the phase one streetcar route should include the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center because of the large number of people who work there but also live downtown. All the options include the health sciences center as a site for future expansion.
The subcommittee and the MAPS 3 Oversight Board will make a route recommendation to the city council, which has the final decision.
Construction on phase one should begin in 2015 with the first streetcar rolling on the tracks in 2017, city officials have said.
The potential routes can be viewed and feedback can be submitted at okc. gov/maps3.
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