Strides Taken for Passenger Rail
On Sept. 6, a six member Lawton-Fort Sill delegation team traveled to the Oklahoma State Capitol to participate in an interim study. Lawton City Councilman Keith Jackson coordinated a group from the City of Lawton and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce to participate in the interim study with a goal to restore the state's passenger rail system.
“Keeping Lawton-Fort Sill represented at the state capitol on transportation issues and opportunities is vital to our continued growth as a city,” Jackson said.
Interim study 17-107 discussed solutions for the completion of the Eastern Flyer route, which is a passenger rail service intended to extend from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, and ideas for the Heartland Flyer, the passenger rail service running between Oklahoma City and Dallas. Lawton's local leaders hope to extend the passenger rail service from Tulsa, through Oklahoma City and into Comanche County.
Bill Phelps, consultant at the State Capitol for the City of Lawton and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, arranged for Lawton-Fort Sill to provide a presentation at the interim study. Richard Rogalski, planner for the City of Lawton, gathered the research and made the presentation, which highlighted the number of commuters to and from Lawton. He concluded that if the passenger rail was restored in Comanche County that passengers' productivity would increase, crowded roadways would ease up and the increased benefits the city would receive from an influx of tourism.
According to Debra Welch, Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, the chamber's primary mission is "creating economic opportunities" for the citizens of Lawton-Fort Sill.
"This is just the first step in a long range plan to have Lawton-Fort Sill included in any plans the State of Oklahoma may make in restoring passenger rail service that could enhance transportation options and provide increased connectivity to other states," Welch said.