Downtown OKC boulevard completion won't be until 2016

Changes in the downtown Oklahoma City boulevard's design mean additional public meetings, state officials say. Construction was set to begin last fall; construction now isn't expected to start until next year, pushing the completion date from 2014 to 2016.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: January 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm •  Published: January 7, 2013

Construction of the downtown Oklahoma City boulevard may be delayed as much as two years because of changes in the roadway's original design, state Transportation Department officials said Monday.

First bids on the roadway, which will be built on the route of the old elevated Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway that was torn down last year, were to be awarded in August with work starting late last year, Gary Evans, deputy director and chief engineer for the state Transportation Department, told members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission.

The roadway, which will connect downtown Oklahoma City to I-40, was to have been completed in late 2014, but now it appears construction won't start until next year, Evans said.

Completion now is expected in 2016.

“We'll move forward with it as quickly as we can while being respectful of the input of all the parties that have an interest in this roadway,” he said.

“It was part of the overall plan for the relocation of I-40, the reconnection of the downtown area.

I-40 previously went immediately into the downtown area; when it moved to the south we needed to make sure that we had that access to the downtown business area preserved. This boulevard was envisioned to re-establish that access.”

Changes in downtown Oklahoma City, as well as differing opinions on the roadway since it was planned about 10 years ago, are causing the delay, state Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said.

“During that time, things have changed in downtown Oklahoma City,” he said.

Oklahoma City officials held public meetings and hired a consultant to come up with a roadway that would meet the city's and residents' needs.

The boulevard, which will be a city street after it is built, originally was intended to be a six-lane roadway, with a bridge on the western end.

The latest proposal now is for a four-lane road with at least some street-side parking, landscaping and improvements to aid pedestrians.

Some concerns were raised by those who wanted the roadway to be built totally at ground level; the latest proposal shows the western end of the boulevard featuring a raised roadway only at an overpass above Western Avenue, not for a much longer stretch as previously planned.

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