The Edmond Sun


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.

Text Only
  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • RedBlueAmerica: What should the U.S. do about illegal immigrant children?

    The crisis along the southern U.S. border has politicians and immigration officials scrambling. More than 52,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have arrived so far this year. The Department of Homeland Security is running out of space to hold them all.
    President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in borrowed money from taxpayers to cover the growing “care, feeding and transportation costs of unaccompanied children and family groups” when our own veterans are not taken care of. Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized the president’s plan, saying more money should go toward securing the border.

    July 17, 2014

  • VA scandal highlights the need to change Pentagon spending priorities

    The ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal raises an important question: When our veterans are being denied access to basic health care, why is the Pentagon squandering billions of dollars on programs that do not benefit our military forces? Is there a link in organization attitudes?

    July 16, 2014

  • For better politics, it’s time for some raging moderates

    Like more than 20 percent of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a no-party-preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state’s political parties.
    I am for lower taxes and for marriage equality. I am tough on crime and I am anti-abortion. I believe that a pathway to citizenship is a necessary part of immigration reform and that student test scores should be a critical component of teacher evaluations.

    July 15, 2014

  • Father on mission to stop gun violence

    Since his son died six weeks ago as collateral damage to a troubled young man’s wish for vengeance, Richard Martinez has been asked whom he holds responsible.
    “I’m responsible,” the California lawyer answers, referring to most Americans’ failure to push harder to change gun laws after earlier mass shootings. “All those kids died and none of us did anything.”

    July 14, 2014

  • The Kansas City Star: Obama must end the public information barriers

    Mr. President, you have a public information problem. Again. Several months ago, journalism organizations complained about a lack of access for news photographers to pertinent presidential events.

    July 14, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results