Downtown merchants, developers hopeful delays are over with Project 180

Planning, incentives aimed at avoiding problems with previous downtown road construction.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: October 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: October 15, 2013
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In a perfect world, when the Carnegie Apartments open next May, crews will be finishing reconstruction of Dean A. McGee Avenue as it passes the front door of the former downtown library.

Judy Hatfield, who has spent years on the redevelopment, is counting on this scenario as Rudy Construction is set to start tearing up the street on Oct. 24.

But over the past three years, the Project 180 reconstruction of downtown streets has been plagued with delays that have sometimes stretched over several months, leading to the closure of restaurants and traffic headaches for pedestrians and drivers.

Hatfield swears she's not worried.

“They did Robinson on the west side of the building, and I went and looked and checked regularly to see what they were doing,” Hatfield said of the prior work. “On this upcoming work, I've already met a couple of times with the engineer, Jonathan Heusel with Tetratech, and that didn't happen before.”

Hatfield also is scheduled to meet with Rudy Construction representatives next week as part of a pre-construction meeting — another change in how Project 180 is implemented.

Add in a schedule of incentives and disincentives tied to finishing the project on time, another change, and Hatfield feels certain the street won't be a mud pit when the 19-unit apartment complex opens at 131 Dean A. McGee in April.

“It was scary when I observed the work being done (on Colcord Drive) just hours before the 75th anniversary celebration was to begin at the Civic Center,” Hatfield said. “People need to have a schedule. People need to have meetings frequently to stay on schedule. I stay organized, and I'm looking forward to Rudy Construction staying organized.”

Across the street, restaurateur Keith Paul is feeling similarly confident about the street work not causing much harm to his Kitchen No. 324. The restaurant at 324 N Robinson opened up in the renovated Braniff Building last year and has been a popular destination, especially with its weekend brunches.

Similar properties built almost a century ago have complicated Project 180 construction elsewhere downtown as crews encountered unexpected issues with basements extending under streets.

City engineers say they're certain such issues were addressed by SandRidge Energy when it renovated the building and rebuilt the sidewalk and street over the Braniff building's basement and completed Project 180 improvements adjacent to the property.

Paul also believes that the completed sidewalk, along with the city's decision not to redo the sidewalk in front of BOK Plaza to the west, will ensure pedestrians will not be blocked from accessing Kitchen No. 324.


by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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What's Next?

May 2014: Opening of the Dean A. McGee/Robinson intersection to north-south traffic. Opening of the McGee/Robinson intersection to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Summer 2014: Opening of the Kerr/Robinson intersection to east-west traffic.

Fall 2014: Opening of Robinson between Dean A. McGee and Park, including the Kerr/Robinson intersection, to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Winter 2014: Opening of Kerr between Harvey and Robinson to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Spring 2015: Opening of the NW 4th/Robinson intersection to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Spring 2015: Opening of Kerr between Robinson and Broadway to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

What's Next?

May 2014: Opening of the Dean A. McGee/Robinson intersection to north-south traffic. Opening of the McGee/Robinson intersection to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Summer 2014: Opening of the Kerr/Robinson intersection to east-west traffic.

Fall 2014: Opening of Robinson between Dean A. McGee and Park, including the Kerr/Robinson intersection, to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Winter 2014: Opening of Kerr between Harvey and Robinson to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Spring 2015: Opening of the NW 4th/Robinson intersection to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Spring 2015: Opening of Kerr between Robinson and Broadway to all vehicular and pedestrian travel.

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