Thursday, June 19, 2008

BNSF Falsifies Crosstown Expressway Documents

The US Surface Transportation Board ruled that Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad falsified documents used in their attempt to abandon railway to make room for the new route for OKC's Crosstown Expressway. This gives hope to local rail transportation advocates that the crucial Union Station rail yards will not be wiped out. With gasoline prices headed into the stratosphere, and the need for economical rail transportation for freight and passengers becoming more important to accomodate 21st century needs, this decision might give us time to re-think the wisdom of the Crosstown re-location.

I've first learned about this situation several years ago when I met Tom Elmore. He makes a powerful case that cities that have destroyed their rail infrastructure have come to regret it. Dallas gave up a substantial part of their rail system only to fight to save the rest of it for an increasingly important rail passenger system. Elmore makes interesting points about how Ernest Istook, when a Congressman from Oklahoma, fought for the Crosstown Expressway re-location (and destruction of the Union Station rail hub) at the same time he was lobbying for money to save and extend rail systems in Utah and Arizona.

Maybe city officials should spend less time on toy trolley systems and heavily subsidized river boats and work on assuring that OKC and central Oklahoma have the crucial rail infrastructure necessary for economical transportation in the future. Once the rights of way are abandoned, there will be no cost-effective way to get them back.

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