Oklahoma City could be poised to catch innovation’s leading edge with its downtown streetcar.
The city council is expected to vote next month to approve a streetcar route, as work shifts from planning to design and, starting in 2015, digging up streets and laying tracks.
Streetcars should be traversing the 4.6-mile loop linking MidTown to Bricktown in 2017.
By then, advancements could enable the 66-foot coaches to cover significant portions of the route without needing overhead wires to supply power.
Lee Nichols, a senior planner with Jacobs, the city’s lead streetcar consultant, said Thursday that “hybrid” streetcars, with sections off wires, are being developed in Seattle and Dallas.
There’s a growing desire to be off-wire, reducing the clutter in busy urban settings, and advances in battery and other technologies increasingly make that possible, Nichols said.
Oklahoma City’s streetcar already will require an off-wire solution for crossing under BNSF railroad tracks between downtown and Bricktown.
Even in areas where service begins with overhead wires, it could be possible to take some down as technology improves, Nichols said.