A ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow will celebrate the reopening of a rail bridge across the North Canadian River in Shawnee. This is the first step in revitalizing an Oklahoma rail line between Shawnee and McAlester that has been closed for over two decades.
Wilburton company Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad, which leases the line from Union Pacific, put millions of dollars into the washed-out bridge to reopen the dormant line. The ceremony will be held at the bridge just south of downtown Shawnee on the North Canadian River. Members of the press should arrive at the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation at 11 a.m. to caravan and carpool to the site.
U.S. Congressman James Lankford; state Reps. Josh Cockroft, Tom Newell, and Justin Wood; and state Sens. Ron Sharp, Harry Coates and Susan Paddack will attend the ceremony. Cockroft said the line opening represents new economic opportunities for Oklahoma communities.
“This will open up a vast economic development opportunity for one of the poorest parts of the state and allow businesses to open and thrive along the line,” said Cockroft (R-Tecumseh). “Communities like Shawnee and Tecumseh, as well as those in southern Pottawatomie County will once again have rail access.”