Oklahoma City Boulevard recommendation has raised portion only at Western

The design recommended by consultants for the western end of the future downtown Oklahoma City Boulevard has a raised roadway only at an overpass at Western Avenue. The city and consultants are formally unveiling the recommendation Monday at a public meeting.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: November 30, 2012
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An overpass at Western Avenue will be the only above-grade portion of the western end of Oklahoma City Boulevard if a consultant's recommendation wins eventual approval.

Oklahoma City officials released design plans this week for the boulevard's western section in advance of the formal unveiling of consultant Stantec's recommendations at a public meeting Monday. Stantec was contracted to study options for the boulevard to traverse a complicated series of intersections west of downtown.

The boulevard's eventual design on that end has been a divisive subject, with some favoring plans that maximize development opportunities and others favoring a focus on traffic movement.

A raised roadway only at Western is essentially a compromise between those priorities, which usually involve design elements that come at the expense of the other.

Changes

The first design of the boulevard featured an elevated roadway all the way from west of Western to Walker Avenue, which is good for moving traffic but bad for creating development opportunities on the boulevard, intended to be a grand parkway and redevelopment magnet.

The roadway would be at-grade for several more blocks if the recommended version is eventually chosen.

“The majority of the retaining wall has been eliminated,” city Public Works Director Eric Wenger said. “It enhances a lot of the at-grade opportunities for development and future use. It increases accessibility for walkability and all those other things that encourage a revitalization of the area.”

The city council, state Transportation Department and federal transportation authorities all have a hand in the ultimate approval of the roadway.

State transportation officials have said they are willing to form a plan to build a roadway based on what the city council says it wants, and federal authorities have to give final approval.

Wenger said consultants considered about 40 options before settling on their recommendation.

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