September 5, 2017 – TRA Newswire –

The Oklahoma House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 7 at the state capitol to review progress and look at the potential for expansion of passenger rail and light rail transit.

The hearing marks a higher level of interest in establishing service between the state’s two largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa in addition to expansion of north-south service between Texas and Kansas. Amtrak currently operates a daily round-trip train, the Heartland Flyer,  from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City with connecting Thruway bus service to Newton Kansas where connections are available to the east-west national network. The Heartland Flyer is a joint venture of the Texas and Oklahoma Departments of Transportation.

Discussions have been ongoing for adding a station at Thackerville, just north of the Texas border to serve WinStar Casino and the addition of a second Heartland Flyer service from Fort Worth to Kansas City. Oklahoma legislators have been ramping up the discussion on passenger rail while Texas lawmakers have been strangely silent on improving service. No interim hearing or study has been planned on the Texas side.

Oklahoma Representatives Monroe Nichols (District 72) and Forrest Bennett (District 92) asked for the inquiry, headed up by Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Vaughn.

The agenda “Connectivity for the Oklahoma of Today and Tomorrow” – Passenger and Light Rail Transit Expansion will hear invited testimony from private business interests, community leaders, public officials and transportation sector advisors.

The hearing will be held in room 432A of the Oklahoma State Capitol Wednesday September 6 from 9am to noon.

Those invited to discuss the role of passenger rail include OKC Chamber President Roy Williams, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing, Tulsa Chamber Senior Vice-President Elizabeth Osburn, Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner, the Chickasha Chamber and others from Lawton/Fort Sill agencies.

Discussing the expansion of Transit will be Brian Bigby of INCOG Economic Development,  Jason Ferbrache from Embark  and John Sharp, Transportation Director of ACOG .

ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson will update potential expansion of passenger rail between Fort Worth, Thackerville, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and into Kansas. He will be joined by ODOT Rails Division Director Craig Moody, Neal McCaleb, Chickasaw Nation Ambassador, Mayor Garvin Kirk, Thackerville, OK, Evan Stair, President of Passenger Rail Oklahoma and Todd Stennis Director, Government Affairs-South AMTRAK. Amtrak operates a daily round-trip train, the Heartland Flyer,  from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City with connecting Thruway bus service to Newton Kansas where connections are available to the east-west national network.  An additional speaker will be James E. Coston, Chairman, Corridor Capital LLC, an independent passenger rail operator.

Potential funding options will also be part of the discussion.

Additional coverage: http://www.kfdi.com/news/talks-continue-on-passenger-train-service

Additional coverage: http://www.thekansan.com/news/20170908/extension-of-passenger-rails-needs-kdot-support