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How could commuter rail fit in with new downtown Oklahoma City arena?

Ryan LaCroix

A large commuter rail that could carry sports fans from Norman and Edmond may come to downtown Oklahoma City.

On May 21, the Oklahoma City Council approved development plans for a new basketball arena. The $900 million Thunder basketball arena plans include a downtown commuter rail station.

The city plans to reserve 60,000 square feet of land accessible from E.K. Gaylord Boulevard and as close to the Santa Fe Train Station as reasonably possible for the transit system.

According to Jason Febrache, Oklahoma City Parking and Transit director, the rail is approximately a 38-mile corridor. The railway would extend north of downtown Edmond and south to Norman.

“It would really connect not just a certain point in Edmond or Norman, but there really [could] be multiple stations across Norman, Edmond and Oklahoma City to give people choices and hopefully more ease of travel,” Febrache said.

Febrache said a large goal of the commuter rail system is to increase walkability, not just near the arena but also around Oklahoma City. According to a 2023 Walk Score study, the Paycom Center is the third least walkable arena in the NBA.

“Walkability and pedestrian movement, bicycle movement, all of those improvements or infrastructure enhancements, complement a successful transit system and vice versa,” Febrache said. “If you have a more successful transit system, people are going to want to access that transit system, through sidewalks and bike trails and those kinds of things.”

Febrache said the commuter rail would promote affordability and accessibility in travel.

“When you design transit systems, they're intentionally designed to make them as easy to use as possible, and for everyone to be able to access that,” Febrache said. “You want to make it as accessible to everyone and super easy to access.”

Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman residents are expected to vote on funding for the commuter rail in early 2025.

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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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