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Oklahoma officials: We're listening to you on downtown Oklahoma City boulevard

State Transportation Department and Oklahoma City officials told city residents Tuesday at a public meeting that they are listening to ideas for the future downtown boulevard. Most people who attended the meeting indicated support for a narrow roadway at ground level.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: August 21, 2012

If Tuesday evening's public meeting was any indication, most people in Oklahoma City favor a narrow roadway at ground level for as long as possible for the future downtown boulevard, and officials are listening and open to suggestions.

The state Transportation Department hosted a public meeting Tuesday in Bricktown regarding the downtown boulevard, primarily to seek comment on whether it should be six or four lanes.

But a wide variety of topics related to the boulevard were raised by officials and people in attendance, and authorities assured the attendees that their comments are being taken seriously.

“I think that's helpful, and I think it's going to be helpful for Oklahoma City to work through this,” said David Streb, the Transportation Department's director of engineering.

Four or six?

The meeting was held to satisfy a federal funding requirement if the Transportation Department and Oklahoma City want to narrow the roadway from six lanes, as planned a decade ago, to four lanes, which is now preferred by the city for most of the boulevard. The meeting's purpose was to set up a public comment period, open for the next two weeks, during which officials will accept formal written comments and suggestions about the roadway.

About 500 people attended the meeting.

Transportation Department officials will take the comments and engineering studies provided by the study to make a recommendation to federal transit authorities, who will approve or reject the plans.

Most of the people in attendance seemed to support the four-lane plan. Comments from attendees referring to a narrow roadway garnered widespread and enthusiastic applause, while those who supported a wider roadway drew applause from a much smaller contingent.

“There doesn't seem to be ... fundamental debate from Walker all the way through Bricktown,” Streb said of much of the roadway, expected to be four lanes and at ground level. “There does seem to be some fundamental debate from Walker going west on what's appropriate.”

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