Streetcar route could impact street parking

The MAPS 3 streetcar subcommittee met on April 23 and heard a presentation on the downtown route.

Members of the MAPS 3 streetcar subcommittee heard a presentation from engineers on Wednesday that outlined more details about the circular route, which could include altering street parking and constructing a one-block line that is seldom used.

Officials from the engineering firm Jacobs outlined a route that would send a streetcar north on N. Broadway Avenue through Automobile Alley, which would convert recently constructed angled parking spaces on the east side of the road back to parallel spaces.

“We are still very early in the design process,” said David Todd, Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS 3) program manager.

Routes are still subject to change, but officials from Jacobs said converting the east side of Broadway back to parallel parking would be a safer configuration.

Engineers are also getting ready to solicit bids for a streetcar manufacturer. In putting together a bid, officials said they wanted to provide potential manufacturers with many options for streetcar sizes in order to ensure the highest number of bids will be submitted.

Engineers are also hoping to construct a streetcar line that is wire-free, but Rick Gustafson, an engineer working on the route, said restricting bids to only those without overhead wires would significantly reduce the number of manufacturers who would respond.

“Our goal is to be 100 percent off-wire,” Gustafson said. “But it would be very risky for us to seek only a system that is 100 percent off-wire.”

The city has already received interest from at least 13 streetcar manufacturers, and the more options the city has to choose from, the better the value might be, Gustafson said.

Committee members were also shown a plan to construct a rail line on EK Gaylord Avenue between Sheridan and Reno Avenues in front of Santa Fe Depot. However, the first phase of the streetcar line would put lines on Sheridan and Reno, and the one-block line on EK Gaylord would not be in regular use.

Mark Dorn, a project manager with URS Corporation, a design, construction and engineering firm, said building the EK Gaylord line would be necessary to meet the requirements of a federal grant that is being used to purchase the Santa Fe Depot as a future transit hub.

Committee members said it would be odd to have a line that was not in use, at least not during the first phase, but acknowledged that it was the best option.

“It’s really nice to see [route] lines on paper,” said Jeff Bezdek, a member of the streetcar committee.
Engineers said they hope to have a bid for a manufacturer ready to go this summer; it would require Oklahoma City Council approval.

The downtown streetcar line, which is part of the voter-approved MAPS 3 project, is still on track for a completion date in late 2017, engineers said.

Ben Felder

Ben is an urban affairs reporter covering local government and education in Oklahoma City. He lives in OKC with his wife, Lori, and son, Satchel. Ben holds a masters in new media journalism from Full Sail University and is an OKC transplant from Kansas City, Mo. Twitter: @benfelder_okg

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