NSN letter on union station

Our letter recently published in The Norman Transcript:

The Transcript’s excellent Sept. 17 article “Rail resolution steaming ahead” should be a call to action for Norman citizens.

The Norman Sustainability Network strongly supports the resolution to protect the Union Station rail yard and encourages all Normanites to come to the city council meeting Tuesday to show their support. We have collected signatures from more than 500 Oklahomans who agree that mass transit infrastructure is vital to our state’s future.

We realize that I-40 is in dire need of repair, but there are several alternative routes for the Expressway that would not encroach on the rail yard.

We need tracks for freight, passenger rail and eventually light rail as well as ample space for bus routes up to Union Station. If the facility is protected and expanded, we could have trains serving Norman, Tulsa and many other Oklahoma cities. Combined train and bus service could reach the state capitol, OU Health Sciences Center, Will Rogers Airport, Remington Park, and Tinker, Altus and Ft. Sill military bases.

There is no good replacement for the Union Terminal, which was purchased in 1989 for an announced purpose as a rail hub. If the hub is destroyed, Oklahoma will lose population and economic opportunities to those states that have better planned for the future.

On the other hand, a revitalized passenger rail system would further the goals of both MAPS and Core to Shore. A study by the University of North Texas found that the DART metro system in Dallas led to $4.26 billion in economic development. Office properties near DART rail stations increased in value 53 percent more than comparable properties not served by rail.

With rising gas prices and environmental damage from ozone and greenhouse gas emissions, alternatives to driving will only become more important. But if we make the right choices now, we can protect and enhance our economy, environment and quality of life.

We ask all Oklahomans to take notice and contact our leaders in state and local government. It is not too late to make our voices heard.

GENE PERRY

THE NORMAN SUSTAINABILITY NETWORK

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