Reporter Michael Kimball answered questions from readers Tuesday during a chat about agenda items discussed during this week's Oklahoma City Council meeting. Read the entire chat recap here.
Topics discussed today include: the design of the grand boulevard downtown that will replace the old Interstate 40 bridge, whether or not the roadway should be elevated, transit implications of the boulevard project and the city's working relationship with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
On elevating the roadway:
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.
Most people seem to favor an at-grade boulevard along the entire length because of the development opportunities that could represent.
On the design of the boulevard:
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.
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.
On transit implications:
Among the things being talked about is making sure the boulevard can handle the MAPS 3 modern streetcar, and that the bridge for the railroad tracks between downtown and Bricktown be able to handle future rail expansion.
Underpass walkways could happen if there's something worth walking to in the middle. That's how it works in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe for example.
On whether ODOT or the city has final say:
The city says ODOT has the final decision but has been amenable to everything the city has asked for so far. But ODOT has still said that the city has final word. They have not yet given a united and clear answer. I suspect ODOT truly does have the final say, but they wouldn't do anything the city doesn't approve of unless there was a really compelling reason.