Lawton to participate in interim study

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Lawton leadership will participate in an interim study – a requested discussion or examination concerning a legislative or policy issue – concerning passenger rail service on Sept. 6 at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Interim study 17-107 has been initiated by Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) and Forrest Bennett (D-Oklahoma City) in an effort to lay out solutions for the completion of the Eastern Flyer route – a passenger rail service intended to extend from Oklahoma City to Tulsa – and discuss new ideas concerning the Heartland Flyer – a passenger rail service that currently runs from Oklahoma City and Dallas.

Local leadership have worked alongside representative John Michael Montgomery (R-Lawton) to identify this opportunity, and look forward to taking part in a legislative discussion about the possibility of restoring passenger rail service from Tulsa, through Oklahoma City, to Comanche County. Discussion attendants from Lawton will include the City of Lawton’s Planning and Community Services Director Richard Rogalski, Mayor Fred Fitch, Ward 2 Councilman Keith Jackson, City Manager Jerry Ihler and Chamber of Commerce President Debra Welch. The upcoming study is one of 37 ongoing studies that Bill Phelps, City of Lawton lobbyist, has identified to local leadership as potentially impacting Lawton-Fort Sill.

“We wanted to make sure Lawton is included at the table during the conversation to be had about possibly restoring this passenger rail service,” Keith Jackson said.

The matter will be brought before Lawton City Council on Aug. 22 in order to obtain a resolution of support.

Other supporters of interim study 17-107 include the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and numerous pro-business groups, as investing in the restoration passenger rail service will reap economic benefits and reduce congestion on roadways.

“Without the construction of a new high speed rail system, commuting by passenger rail will not be faster than driving,” Rogalski said. “It’s the ability to relax and avoid the stress of traffic congestion and even log into your office from your laptop and turn your commute time into productive time that makes passenger rail an interesting option.”

Updates following the Aug. 22 Lawton City Council meeting will be made available at lawtonok.gov.

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