From The Oklahoman | By William Crum | Published: December 1, 2015
Mick Cornett raised the central question on a day when the Oklahoma City metro, ceremoniously at least, shed a bit of its parochial nature.
“We have acted individually for a long, long time,” Oklahoma City’s mayor said at a gathering of leaders from six cities that have agreed to work together, leveraging transit to promote economic growth.
Cornett said 2016 will begin to answer the question of when metro-area residents will be ready to fund regional services “that can continue to drive commerce and jobs to central Oklahoma.”
Elected leaders already are there.
Elected leaders from each city have agreed to pay a share of $511,000 that is to be spent in coming months to organize a Regional Transit Authority task force.
The Oklahoma Legislature in 2014 gave central Oklahoma communities the power to seek voters’ approval and funding for transit services that will cross city and county boundaries.
The six cities anticipate spending $2.1 million over the next three years to determine how a Regional Transit Authority will take shape, including governance and service boundaries.
Elizabeth Waner, chairwoman of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments board of directors, said the Oklahoma City metropolitan area is expected to grow from 1.1 million residents to 1.6 million over the next 25 years.
Mark the date “not necessarily for everything that we’re saying here but for what is going to happen as a result of what we’re doing here,” said Waner, who serves on the Edmond City Council.
Del City Mayor Brian Linley called the day an “important regional milestone,” and Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said more transit options for residents “can’t come soon enough.”
Cornett noted that Interstate 35’s capacity is set. He said that “should be a wake-up call to the entire region, that we’re going to have to come up with different modes of transportation if we’re going to continue to expect to grow.”
Edmond Mayor Charles Lamb looked ahead to when planning gives way to building.
Rosenthal said the agreement to work together is a turning point “in thinking about regional cooperation.”
“As we look at what’s happening around the country and where investment is going and where new growth is going, and energy, it’s in regions that work together,” she said.
“We have an opportunity,” Rosenthal said, “to make central Oklahoma the most vibrant region in the country.”
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