OKC’s new hub will be located at the Santa Fe Depot. This location is beside the north-south Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks and is just west of Bricktown.
The tremendous present-and-future cost of the transit hub described above should have been unnecessary! The Union Station rail yard and terminal building were purchased during the Bellmon administration with a $1.2 million grant from the federal government as an ideal hub location for the state’s railway network.
This rail yard, 300 S.W. Seventh Street, Oklahoma City, was eight blocks long and 12 tracks wide, and located beside existing railroad tracks that led to Will Rogers World Airport.
Nevertheless, the Union Station rail yard was doomed to be covered with asphalt when in July 2008, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, ODOT Director Gary Ridley and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Vice President Dean Schirf wrote letters to the Surface Transportation Board that favored running the Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway realignment straight through the Union Station rail yard.
Edwin Kessler of Norman filed a lawsuit, Kessler v. Surface Transportation Board, in his attempt to save the Union Station rail yard. Likewise the city councils of Norman, Shawnee, Chickasha and El Reno passed resolutions asking that alternatives to the destruction of the Union Station rail yard be considered — all to no avail. Ironically, a slight adjustment in the location of the I-40 realignment could have saved both I-40 realignment and the Union Station rail yard.
The Oklahoma City Council, with Mick Cornett in charge, ignored major public pressure and continued to do nothing. ODOT was in charge of destroying that rail yard and removal of railroad tracks leading from downtown to Will Rogers World Airport.
After destroying a perfect hub location already paid for, “they” now want to spend multi-millions of taxpayer money to develop a new hub. The question on everyone’s mind should be: Who benefits from this atrocity?
—Wanda Jo Stapleton
Stapleton is a former Democratic state representative.
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