Santa Fe Station on track for modern transportation

Published Tuesday, November 21, 2017
by Cathy O'Connor

The newly restored Santa Fe Station, once a hub for Oklahoma City rail passengers and soon to be Oklahoma City’s new intermodal transit hub, will be the site of a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 7. The event marks the city’s progress toward providing and supporting mixed modes of transportation.

Built in 1934, the Santa Fe Station originally served as a rail depot for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The station has continued to provide rail service through Amtrak, which offered service until 1979 and resumed service in 1999 when the depot was last renovated.

The intermodal hub will bring together the OKC Streetcar, Embark buses, Amtrak Heartland Flyer, light rail, bike and pedestrian traffic. The hub will offer commuters many choices in public transportation. For example, a resident who lives in the urban core could bike to the hub, park their bike and ride the bus to another destination. Conversely, a resident of Norman could take the Heartland Flyer to the Santa Fe Station, then take the OKC Streetcar downtown.

Creating an intermodal hub will also encourage economic development. Areas served by public transit are more attractive to developers and investors because transit “circulates” people to shop, eat and connect with businesses and neighborhoods. Several cities, such as Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City, have experienced higher economic growth and new business development near intermodal hub and key transit stops.

The Santa Fe Station is the result of an ongoing partnership and planning among several entities: Embark, the city of Oklahoma City and MAPS, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

The project is funded by a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as the city of Oklahoma City and other partner agencies. TAP Architecture is the restoration architect. The general contractor is Cooley Construction.

The ribbon-cutting celebrates phase one of the development of the hub as well as the renovation of one of Oklahoma City’s most historic, iconic Art Deco structures. Transit and city leaders are discussing ways to further develop the area to enhance commuters’ experience and encourage more economic activity in and around the hub.

Cathy O’Connor is the president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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