Unedited transcript of Oklahoma City Council chat with Michael Kimball, July 31, 2012

Reporter Michael Kimball chatted with readers Tuesday about agenda items discussed at this week's Oklahoma City Council meeting.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Modified: July 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm •  Published: July 31, 2012
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Below is a transcript of a chat with reporter Michael Kimball about Oklahoma City Council agenda items.

Hello, folks. Welcome to the post-Oklahoma City Council meeting chat. Go ahead and submit some questions and we'll get started in a few minutes.
- Michael Kimball at 12:21

The biggest item on the agenda today was a presentation on the design of the grand boulevard downtown that will replace the old Interstate 40 bridge.
- Michael Kimball at 12:23

Debate on how to spend a projected surplus of $1.5M in this year's budget was postponed to a later meeting.
- Michael Kimball at 12:24

What did you think of their design
- Lee at 12:25

A little bit of quick background: The main issue here is whether the boulevard will be raised along the section that's mainly west of downtown. A problematic intersection is the cause of the debate -- most likely a roundabout or traffic circle will be needed if the roadway is not elevated, but people think an elevated roadway won't spur development. And a main point of the boulevard is to spur development.
- Michael Kimball at 12:26

As for what I think, to a layman, it seems obvious that an elevated roadway isn't good for development immediately along that roadway. But the Reno/Western/Classen intersection area is complicated, so a roundabout would have to be well-designed. I think both designs have pros and cons, like most people do. Some compromise will be needed with the final design, as most people recognize.
- Michael Kimball at 12:27

What do you guys think: elevated or at-grade (ground level)?
- Michael Kimball at 12:28

Did they talk about the additional right-of-way that would be required if the at-grade boulevard were pursued? What about the delay in when the project will be completed if there is a re-design this late in the process?
- Derick at 12:30

There are some issues with right-of-way along that section of the boulevard, but I don't sense that any are too big to be solved. In terms of the timeline, there's still time to hammer out the details. Studying needs to start soon, but sounds like it will.
- Michael Kimball at 12:31

I feel that if they do design a roundabout then everyone in Oklahoma needs to go back to driving school and learn how to use them. Its brutal driving through the ones in Midtown because people just DON'T know how to use them!
- OklahomaNick at 12:31

A lot of people share those concerns. I think people would get used to it, but it would take time.
- Michael Kimball at 12:31

elevated = less tax payer money as they don't have to buy out businesses in the area to construct it. But then again to bring better development to that area businesses and people will be displaced by others with more money that want the road side property.
- Matt at 12:31

I live near this location and pass it about 4 or 5 times a week. I would much rather see something ground level. They just took down a bridge that was not only an eye sore, but was also a "hang out" . Why put up another?
- Lee at 12:32

Like most of the active participants, I favor the at-grade roadway. In addition to the well discussed problems with the Reno/Western/Classen intersection, the bermed portion to the West raises several issues-- by being bermed, it will be impossible to connect north-south local streets to the boulevard. Without a connection, the land will be difficult to access, and will likely continue to be low-value industrial-- hardly a great view for a "front entrance" to downtown.
- Anthony at 12:32

Without a doubt, these most recent comments reflect the majority of opinions I've heard among people at meetings, on Twitter, etc.
- Michael Kimball at 12:32

Most people seem to favor an at-grade boulevard along the entire length because of the development opportunities that could represent.
- Michael Kimball at 12:33

I fell like right-of-way costs would be higher and time to acquire property could take quite a bit longer than most people realize.
- Derick at 12:33

Steve Lackmeyer's article suggests this is a huge, dysfunctional collision between city, state and potentially federal governments. What do you think?
- Rob Abiera at 12:33

There is a lot of evidence that there have been some major communication issues, at least with communicating things to the public. I think today was a big step in clearing that up. City will study at-grade alternatives, and they say ODOT will listen.
- Michael Kimball at 12:34

Is thought that this area (Classen/Western/et al) would know be the western entrance to 'downtown'?
- ThatOneGuy at 12:34

It would definitely be considered a gateway from the west, that's for sure.
- Michael Kimball at 12:34

I personally am okay with it being elevated over the Classen/Western area. That is already a mess. I would like to see the rest of it at grade level though.
- OklahomaNick at 12:34