OKC’s bus rapid transit wins federal grant
Oklahoma City won a federal grant this week for a bus rapid transit line, a new option for commuters between northwest-side neighborhoods and downtown.
Service could begin in 2023. Opening bus rapid transit is the next step in building a comprehensive regional transportation network.
Plans for the Regional Transit Authority envision commuter rail to Edmond and Norman, and expanded streetcar service to Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base.
The $14.3 million BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation was announced Thursday — along with grants to Tulsa and the Port of Muskogee — by Sen. Jim Inhofe.
“Federal investment in Oklahoma infrastructure continues to pay dividends for citizens across the state,” Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said in a written statement.
The bus rapid transit line will go up N Classen Boulevard to the Northwest Expressway, then out the Northwest Expressway past Penn Square to Meridian Avenue.
Bus rapid transit utilizes dedicated lanes and priority at traffic signals to cut commute times.
A report this week said the average commute time in Oklahoma City has crept up to 21.1 minutes, from 20 minutes in 2010.
Transit Director Jason Ferbrache said the federal grant is to be matched with $10.8 million in bond funds and $2.2 million in sales tax proceeds, both approved by voters last year.
Other transit funds totaling $1.5 million bring the project’s total cost to $28.8 million.
Enhancements such as sidewalks and bike lanes will connect to the route and are part of the design.
The service would link to the downtown streetcar line, providing an option for reaching downtown offices, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues without having to drive and park.
Ferbrache said design and engineering tasks would continue through 2021, with construction beginning in that same year. Service could begin two years later.