By Nathanial Harding
In June, after three years of work by city staff, consultants, a citizen subcommittee and advisory board, four "concept routes" for the MAPS 3 modern streetcar were presented in several public forums. This is an important milestone for Oklahoma City. When citizens approved MAPS 3, it signaled a resolve to make big changes to how we move around this city.
Denver, Dallas and Salt Lake City each kick-started transit system improvements by approving rail projects. The best transit systems integrate multiple modes of transportation, with each mode optimized to serve a different purpose. Even though the streetcar won't begin operations until 2017, the city and consultants are already working to determine the sources of revenue and funding for the operations of the system.
A project of this magnitude - the most transformative for downtown since the canal - deserves public debate and scrutiny. Thousands of hours have been dedicated to research and discussion to find the solution that works best for Oklahoma City. The MAPS 3 process has been designed to allow citizens to make recommendations to decision-makers with the benefit of input from expert consultants.
More than 80 open meetings have been held to allow the general public to provide input. The transit/modern streetcar subcommittee, made up of 10 citizens from across Oklahoma City, has held public meetings monthly since November 2010 to deliver a streetcar that will benefit residents, employees and visitors to downtown and keep the city competitive for development and growth. Each of the final four concept routes accomplishes this by serving housing of all types and covering every major downtown district.