The Edmond Sun

Opinion

September 30, 2013

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Street cars in Oklahoma City's future

OKLA. CITY — The Moscow mass transit system is somewhat unique in that it follows a circular path through the Russian capital. And there is a story told of why it follows such a pattern. The system was built in the 1930s and was designed to be a symbol of the Soviet Union’s productivity and ability to provide transportation to the citizens and workers of Moscow.

The plans for it had to be approved personally by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and as a result, the blueprints prepared by the engineers who designed it featured straight lines that intersected the major thoroughfares of Moscow.

When the plan landed on Stalin’s desk in the Kremlin, he placed his teacup on it which left a brown circular imprint before he approved it by placing his initials on it. When the document was returned to the engineers, they concluded that Stalin wanted the system built on a circular system and hurriedly altered their plans accordingly.  

Needless to say, the streetcar system that was approved last week by the Oklahoma City Council was the result of a much greater degree of deliberation. The council authorized a route that was prepared by a transportation consultant that will take six street cars from the Downtown Transit Center on a 4.5 mile route that will include stops in Bricktown, the MidCity area Automobile Alley and the Santa Fe Station. A streetcar system for downtown Oklahoma City was included in the MAPS 3 Project that was approved by the voters of Oklahoma City several years ago.

A percentage of the sales tax that was levied in accordance with MAPS 3 was dedicated to funding the undertaking. A subcommittee of the Oklahoma City Council and a Citizens Advisory Committee recommended that the Council approve the plan.

The streetcars are supposed to be in operation by 2017, and an animation of the route it will follow is on the City of Oklahoma City’s website. The site includes several areas that are labeled as “possible future extension” that would extend the route further from the downtown area. And the significance of the streetcar system for the Oklahoma City metropolitan area may be that it will prompt suburban communities such as Edmond, Norman and Midwest City to fund a regional mass transit system that will connect to it.

And, in the event that the system does reach Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base, that is located in that community, will be able to keep the majority of its civilian employees coming to work even if our national fuel supply is disrupted due to events in the volatile Middle East.  

That ability may insure that Tinker remains in operation when decisions are made in the future as to what military bases should remain in operation and which one should close. And the streetcar system will transform the civic culture in a variety of ways. The travel section of the Sunday New York Times recently reported on the “trolley dances” that are held on stops on some of the streetcar stops in the California communities of San Diego, Riverside, and Los Angeles. The article detailed how the dances came into being 15 years ago after a dance troupe in San Diego was unable to afford to rent a theater and decided to perform where people gathered to board and exit the streetcars. The success of that undertaking prompted dance troupes in Los Angeles and Riverside to start similar programs. Those dances have now become tourist attractions that bring people to those communities. And it is possible that at some future date cultural events will be held at stops on Oklahoma City’s streetcar line.

William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax deadline and no reform in sight

    The annual tax filing deadline, which comes next Tuesday, provides a good opportunity for tax reform advocates to decry the current law’s increasing complexity and inequities, and to urge enactment of a simpler, fairer system.

    April 10, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results