Oklahoma City region’s first BRT project breaks ground

June 29, 2022
Officials with EMBARK, FTA and the city held a ceremony for the first RAPID BRT project that is expected to enter service in fall 2023.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the first bus rapid transit (BRT) project in the Oklahoma City region. The RAPID Northwest (NW) project will serve 32 stops and is expected to open in the fall of 2023.

"Modern cities demand world-class transit systems to move people, connect neighborhoods and drive vitality," said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. "Today's groundbreaking represents an unwavering commitment to our city's continued growth, livelihood and accessibility. I commend the dedicated individuals who have worked to foster strategic partnerships on many levels so that we, as a city, continue to enhance and increase public transit options for all of OKC."

The 9.5-mile line promises faster and more frequent service sped by priority traffic signals planned for 38 intersections. More than 20 percent of the region’s jobs are located within a half-mile of the RAPID NW line, which will connect downtown Oklahoma City to Classen Boulevard and along Northwest Expressway to Meridian. The line will also integrate within the existing EMBARK transit network with connections to its fixed-route network, the OKC Streetcar and Spokies bike share.

"This is an exciting day for public transportation in Oklahoma City, and I am honored to join all of you for today’s event celebrating the RAPID Northwest line - a milestone that is the beginning of an even better future, a sustainable future for residents and visitors of the Central Oklahoma region,” said FTA Region VI Administrator Gail Lyssy. 

Jason Ferbrache, EMBARK administrator and newly appointed assistant city manager, shared with Mass Transit last summer how the 2030 Fixed Guideway Plan completed in 2005 provided a roadmap to implement a series of regional transit solutions including BRT. A concept plan for the inaugural BRT line was completed in 2016 followed by preliminary design in 2020.

The $28.9 million RAPID NW is being funded in part by a $14.4 million U.S. Department of Transportation Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Grant, as well as funds from OKC Public Works, Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust, Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration.

The MAPS 4 program was approved in December 2019 and includes $87 million for transit over eight years, including $60 million for advanced regional transit projects such as additional RAPID corridors.

HNTB engineered the RAPID NW line and Oklahoma City-based Rudy Construction was awarded the construction contract. Construction is expected to begin at four locations along the RAPID NW corridor, including southbound at NW 42nd Street and Classen; northbound at NW 36th Street and Classen; southbound at NW 56th Street and Portland and NW Expressway and Villa where sidewalk improvements will begin.

Last month, EMBARK officials unveiled the first of nine RAPID vehicles to the public during a transit vehicle showcase. The new CNG buses will be equipped with luxury seating and amenities that provide an elevated transit experience for customers.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.