Bricktown streetcar loop nearly finished

Published: Tuesday, July 25, 2017 By: Brian Brus Source: The Journal Record

The Bricktown loop of the new downtown streetcar system is just weeks away from track completion, officials said Monday.

The work is hitting all budgeting and deadline targets, as planners overestimated in some aspects and fell short in others, said Lance Musgrave, assistant manager of the city’s MAPS sales tax projects. The full cost of the 4.9-mile route is $13.8 million, including the rail, utility lines, and streetcars.

By October, the line’s maintenance hub will be complete and the first car delivered to Oklahoma City, Musgrave said.

In the meantime, city officials are pleased to be down to the last two blocks of the rail-installation process, at least in Bricktown, said Kristen Torkelson, spokeswoman for the ADG architectural firm running the installation of the streetcar.

The area has been heavily populated lately with major events such as concerts, pedestrian runs, and parades, presenting a significant challenge in managing traffic flow.

“We worked closely with SMG (arena management company) on the Garth Brooks concert because we had so many in that area, and we did have an open trench there,” Torkelson said. “So we put down plenty of barriers and extra police at the pedestrian crossing to keep thousands of people safe.”

Some work in Bricktown is still needed for curbs, gutters, ramps and sidewalks. After that, power line poles will be installed for the overhead catenary system, or OCS.

“There were some good contingencies that we built into the project,” Musgrave said. “In a job like this, you think you know what’s in the ground that you have to work with, but you don’t actually know until you get into it. … That’s what happened with the utilities.”

Recent districtwide Project 180 streetscaping work helped prepare planners for surprises that never turned up, he said. The P180 project has hit delay after delay as crews work around decades-old lines that aren’t where they’ve been mapped.

The full streetcar line is designed with 22 stops so far, including the Myriad Gardens, federal courthouse, Automobile Alley, Midtown, the Memorial Museum and baseball park. Passenger stop construction is being synchronized with other projects to reduce traffic disruptions and avoid tearing up new roadwork, as in the case of the stop on the Oklahoma City Boulevard near the MAPS 3 convention center complex across the street from the new downtown park.

By March, the Bricktown loop will be finished and ready for test runs. Even before that, however, the streetcars will be put through their paces on another piece of the track on Hudson Avenue that was installed early for that purpose.

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