big victory for Oklahoma rail

From the Edmond Sun:

In a remarkable turnabout, a federal agency has thrown a kink in the reconstruction of the I-40 Crosstown Expressway. The decision brings new hope for passenger rail service in Oklahoma, and headaches for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in the face of soaring costs and dwindling resources.

The federal Surface Transportation Board, which succeeded the Interstate Commerce Commission in its 1995 reorganization, has jurisdiction over the railroad industry in this country, including line abandonments. In January 2007 the board was persuaded that the rail lines in downtown Oklahoma City had been abandoned for more than two years, triggering a federal regulation that allowed the lines to be expeditiously removed and clearing the way for the I-40 rerouting project.

As it turns out, the rail lines had not been abandoned. While construction began on the highway project, Ed Kessler of Norman filed a petition to reopen the abandonment decision. He presented evidence, including photographs, indicating BNSF and Stillwater Central Railroad trains still were using the line to serve businesses in the area.

Read the rest.

Thanks to Ed Kessler and all of the dedicated Oklahomans working to save Union Station for helping to make this happen!

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