NORMAN — Residents will get the chance to vote on a $42.6 million bond proposal that promises to address an area in Norman dubbed “Lake McGee” because of constant flooding problems.
Members of the city council voted unanimously Tuesday to send the proposal to voters for an Aug. 28 special election.
If approved by voters, the work outlined in the proposal would begin next year with Cedar Lane Road, between 12th Avenue SE and 24th Avenue SE. The project calls for stormwater improvements and road widening in the growing area.
The work along Lindsey Street, from 24th Avenue SW to Berry Road, would begin in 2016 and cost more than $30 million. The project would include more than $4 million in stormwater improvements north of Lindsey along McGee Avenue and Wylie Road, the area dubbed “Lake McGee.”
Public Works Director Shawn O'Leary said the work along Lindsey also would address what he described as an excessive amount of driveways and access points on the busy street.
Because there are about 90 individual driveways along the stretch of Lindsey, O'Leary said it has become a traffic accident hot spot in Norman.
Other projects associated with the bond proposal include road widening at 12th Avenue SE, E Alameda Street and 24th Avenue SE.
Sections of Franklin Road, Lindsey and W Main Street would benefit from stormwater improvements to alleviate documented flooding hazards.
O'Leary said the road projects are in growing areas that are expected to continue to expand in coming years.
Finance Director Anthony Francisco said the bonds would be paid off by property owners in Norman over a 20-year period. He said the average homeowner, with a house worth $150,000, would pay less than $5 per month if voters approve the proposal.
Some audience members asked why a sales tax wasn't being proposed and argued it could raise the money faster.
Ward 2 Councilman Tom Kovach said he supported the idea of using general obligation bonds instead of a sales tax because he doesn't want taxpayers paying more than they need to.
“You can't levy a sales tax for a specific amount. We know exactly how much money we're going to issue this bond for ... there won't be anything more than that,” Kovach said.
“The only way to fund a road project with a sales tax would be to do it in such a fashion where there is likely to be millions more dollars collected than what we need. I don't think anybody wants that.”
The council accepted a bid from Tulsa-based Atlas General Contractors to build Fire Station 9 on the city's east side. The contract is for $3.8 million.
Funds for a new fire station come from the public safety sales tax, passed by voters in 2008. Fire Station 8 opened in 2011 on the city's west side and was paid for from the same tax source.
The public safety sales tax also was approved to hire more police officers and firefighters.
O'Leary commented on the success of recently installed flashing yellow lights that tell drivers to yield to oncoming traffic while making left turns. Traffic accidents have dropped 30 percent at 12th and Lindsey, where a flashing yellow light has been in place for months.
O'Leary said the intersection traditionally has the highest number of left-turn accidents in Norman.
“Our early results are very remarkable and very favorable,” he said.