For Immediate Release: January 16, 2014
Sen. Brian Crain
Sen. Crain urges ODOT not to derail
Despite enthusiastic support for three upcoming passenger railroad
trips between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in February, the Eastern
Flyer could already be looking at the end of the line. Tulsa Republican
was the Senate author of legislation passed in 2011 creating a
task force examining restoration of passenger rail service between
the two metros. Crain said he was extremely disappointed to learn
that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), which owns
the tracks, has set a January 30 deadline for bids to sell the
rail line that will carry the Eastern Flyer.
“The three upcoming Eastern Flyer excursions have nearly
sold out. That shows how much enthusiasm and support there is
to bring back passenger service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City—something
we haven’t had since 1967,” Crain said. “This
line represents tremendous economic development potential, not
only for the two metro areas, but for communities along the line
as well. I think it would be a huge mistake for ODOT to put the
brakes on this remarkable project by selling the rail line.”
ODOT reportedly has set opening bids at $9.1 million with a deadline
of January 30.
Crain pointed to a report showing the Heartland Flyer had resulted
in multiple benefits for local economies and for public safety.
The 2009 study showed estimated passengers spent more than $18
million in communities along that line, with more than $1.3 million
of that collected in local sales taxes. It was also found that
more than 39,000 vehicle trips were diverted to the Heartland
Flyer in ’09, resulting in an estimated reduction of 7.9
million vehicle-miles traveled on the corridor roadways.
“Although ODOT officials have reportedly said they had planned
to sell the line since first purchasing it in 1998, many Eastern
Flyer supporters didn’t know about ODOT’s January
30 deadline,” Crain said. “I’m told officials
have indicated they might be willing to lease the line to companies
that would operate a passenger service. That option would provide
far more benefit to the people of this state in the long run.
I strongly urge ODOT not to derail the Eastern Flyer.”
For more information contact:
Sen. Crain: (405) 521-5620