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Oklahoma City leaders earlier this week broke ground on the MAPS 3 Oklahoma City Streetcar project.The ceremonial groundbreaking marked the start of a two-year construction and testing period in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Service is expected to begin in December 2018, city officials said in a press release.The event was held on Sheridan Avenue in front of The Melting Pot restaurant in the Bricktown neighborhood. The $131 million streetcar line will connect Bricktown with Oklahoma City's central business district, as well as the Chesapeake Energy Center, the Midtown area and a future downtown park and convention center.The MAPS 3 initiative is a $777 million capital improvement program funded by a 1-cent sales tax that went into effect in April 2010 and ends in December. The program will fund eight projects, including the streetcar construction.The larger MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) program began in December 1993, when voters approved a new sales tax. "The MAPS 3 OKC Streetcar is one of the most ambitious projects in Oklahoma City's history, and it will forever transform the way we live, shop, work, play, eat and get around downtown and the surrounding districts," said Mayor Mick Cornett. "We can expect to create memorable public spaces and increased private development like locally owned shops, restaurants and more housing options."In November 2016, the Oklahoma City Council tapped Herzog/Stacy and Witbeck Inc. to install rail for the system. Also in 2016, the council approved a $24.9 million contract to buy five streetcars from Brookville Equipment Corp.
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