Some Oklahoma passenger rail opponents believe it's time to consider high-speed rail between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. A concept presented at an interim study calls for trains on elevated tracks, which would be similar to this Shinkansen train in Taiwan.
How would you like to get to Oklahoma City in 25 minutes?
Some passenger rail supporters think it’s possible with high-speed rail.
At state Sen. Kevin Matthews' interim study on passenger rail Tuesday, McGrath Construction President Jon McGrath said an elevated line could be built along I-44 to allow for trains up to 220 miles per hour. His firm specializes in railroad construction and has been involved in passenger rail projects in more than two dozen U.S. cities.
McGrath said the system would cost up to $3 billion dollars, but the state wouldn’t have to pay that.
"If the state would provide the right of way, others will come in and build the track and operate it under a long-term lease," McGrath said.
High-speed trains could not travel on existing tracks. The Sooner Sub Line has 131 curves between Tulsa and OKC.
"We're not in the business of curves. When trying to get to 220 miles an hour, we want something that's straight, so the corridor for I-44 would be a better choice than the existing track," McGrath said.
Matthews said the option could make constant expansion of the Turner Turnpike unnecessary.
"We do want to grow to the point where we need six or eight lanes, but we won't need them if we look at this mode of transportation," Matthews said.
Construction of a high-speed rail line would probably take five years. It could tie into other segments as such systems spread across the country.
California, Texas and Florida have high-speed rail lines currently under construction.
Passenger rail service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City is supposed to be in the works by Stillwater Central Railroad as a condition of its purchase of the Sooner Sub line. The company has until 2019 to start a pilot project.