Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments hosted its first public meeting Jan. 20 on the intermodal transportation hub study, seeking comments and feedback on the initial study sites and findings.
Representatives from the Jacobs project consultant company discussed the planning and research process at the meeting.
The goal of the study is to recommend the best location and provide a conceptual layout for the intermodal transportation hub that would serve the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. ACOG is the sponsor and coordinating entity for the study.
Attempting to tie several loose ends together at one centralized location, planners are seeking to accommodate passengers from Amtrak, a planned high-speed rail line, a commuter rail line connecting Oklahoma City to several suburban areas, the future MAPS 3 downtown streetcar line, rapid bus transit and several other modes of transportation into its function, location and design.
The selection process began with 10 sites around the downtown area, said Allan Zreet, a transportation group manager with Jacobs. Each site was ranked by several factors, such as transportation accommodation, civic presence, potential for economic development and automobile and pedestrian access.
Certain sites fared better than others, and eventually some were combined and the number of possible locations was winnowed down to three, Zreet said.
Those three sites are a north Bricktown parking lot combined with the so-called “buffalo statue site” on the east side of the tracks on Main Street; Santa Fe Station combined with parking lots north and south of Reno; and the lumberyard facility south of where Interstate 40 currently sits.
“Before we go to the next level of analysis, we want to get input from the public as to whether we’re going in the right direction,” Zreet said. “Our next step is to evaluate those three sites and recommend a final site.”
It will probably be spring before a final site is selected, and there are several things to consider before that happens, Zreet said, such as a ridership projection for the high-speed, commuter and Amtrak rail systems, as well as how people will transfer from one mode of transportation to the other.
Making sure the site fits within the frame of the city and a financing plan must also be carried out, Zreet said.
“The advantage of the hub is trying to get as many modes of transportation together so you can transfer between modes,” Zreet said.
The hub site is also affected by other projects going, such as the MAPS 3 streetcar, Project 180, a planned commuter rail line, Core to Shore and the state Department of Transportation’s work on a high-speed rail line between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
“All of them will have an impact on the hub study,” said Doug Tennant, senior planner at Jacobs’ Oklahoma City office. “Just as importantly, the hub and its location will have an impact on them. It’s a monumental task to start building our base sheet.”
Jacobs’ planners took several questions and listened to concerns from audience members regarding travel connections between Will Rogers World Airport and the hub, how the city bus system would factor into the hub, the environmental impact of the commuter and high-speed rail systems and the use of MAPS 3 funds that were set aside for the hub.
Tennant said he believes the planners and the Oklahoma City metro are starting to think about mass transit on a regional scale. “We believe this hub can be the centerpiece of that,” he said.
David Streb, director of engineering at ODOT, was one of those in attendance at the meeting. Streb praised the work by all parties involved, and the fact that planners were not rushing, thereby allowing all parties to work together to form a comprehensive plan about how to best connect all of the transportation projects.
“I think the opportunity for these things to be going on at the same time is wonderful for this whole region and state,” Streb said. “We’re not being boxed in a corner with one issue and being dealt a bad hand. Whether it’s the hub study, the streetcar, the high-speed rail, no one can tell what’s going to come (first) in their crystal ball.”
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