Mayor & Council Disagree Over Passenger Rail Resolution

It came with as much power as a freight train, a mayoral veto of a city council resolution.

"Let's let the private sector take this on," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

The issue? Whether or not the state should sell the rail line connecting T-town to OKC.

"If BNSF buys the line then it'll be the death knell for passenger rail service to Oklahoma," said former city councilor Rick Westcott, and now chairman of the Passenger Rail Advisory Committee.

"Study after study after study has indicated that increased frequency of passenger rail brings increased economic development," he said.

"The city of Tulsa shouldn't be in a position to try to tell the Oklahoma Department of Transportation what it should do," said Bartlett.

"It is surprising to me that a mayor would veto it, but it does not surprise me that our mayor vetoed this," said Tulsa city councilor Blake Ewing. He says the issue is about the region's success in the future.

"Why would we not want to start the foundation, laying the foundation or connectivity between Tulsa and OKC?" he asked.

But from the mayor's office, concern of taxpayer dollars being spent wisely.

"For a passenger rail between Tulsa and OKC to be commercially viable it's going to require a very, very significant amount of money, which ODOT is not in a position to spend, much less commit to," said Bartlett.

And yet, points out Chairman Westcott...

"There is at least one private rail entity who has offered twice to ODOT to run multiple round trips per day with no operational subsidy from the taxpayers," he said.

Opposing opinions headed towards each other on the same track.

"Government doesn't do a lot of things real well," said Bartlett.

"The best solution is that the line remain in state ownership," said Westcott.