Tuesday, May 20, 2014
The latest proposed designs for a downtown boulevard by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation are being met with a mixed response, with some critics questioning the agency’s review process while others are arguing the boulevard should not be built.
The boulevard was first envisioned in 1998 as part of the reconstruction of Interstate 40 south of downtown and was to follow the old highway’s alignment between Western Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation set a two-week public comment process that ends Wednesday. Most of the discussion centers around Option C, which was scored highest by state highway engineers and creates an uninterrupted four-block bypass between Western and Walker avenues, and the option scored lowest, which would abandon construction of a boulevard and instead proposes reconstructing the city street grid that existed in the area a half-century ago.
Groups take a stand
One organization, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, has publicly endorsed Option C. The option includes a bridge over a merged Western Avenue and Classen Boulevard and sidewalks that would adjoin the at-grade road between Bricktown and Reno Avenue. The design eliminates an elevated roadway that would have spanned between Western and Walker Avenues. The only at-grade intersection between Western and Walker avenues would be at Reno Avenue.
“We have discussed it at length, I’ve talked to a lot of people downtown, and we believe the best one is Option C,” Chamber President Roy Williams said. “There is no consensus for Options A and B, though some do like Option D.”
Williams said Option C appears to be the best compromise, adding “we may not get a perfect design.” The debate, he said, also hinges on the Transportation Department paying for the project. The road will be owned and maintained by the city once it is built and opened.
Read the rest of this story at NewsOK.com