The Oklahoma City Council has finally approved a master plan for MAPS 3 sidewalks, but it is holding off for now on a binding commitment to fund as many miles of sidewalks as originally promised.
The master plan approved unanimously Tuesday prioritizes locations for sidewalks based on a weighted scale to measure need. It was modified slightly from a plan the council sent back to the MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board late this summer. The only notable changes were an adjustment in the estimated cost of sidewalk construction, and a tweak to how one stretch of sidewalk was scored.
City officials estimate the $9 million MAPS 3 sidewalk budget can provide at least 26 to 37 miles of sidewalks, depending on the final bids from prospective contractors. The city told residents before the MAPS 3 vote they planned to build 70 miles of the sidewalks, but city officials have conceded that was based on poor cost estimates.
Council members expressed strong support for acting on the recommendation of the advisory board's trails and sidewalks subcommittee to find more money somewhere to build the full 70 miles. But the council will wait before deciding how.
“That's a concrete, literally concrete, promise that we made to do 70 miles,” Ward 4 Councilman Pete White said. “I think turning our back on that is a mistake, a gross mistake.”
The subcommittee's weighted scoring system gave priority to sidewalk locations based in part on their proximity to schools, hospitals, libraries and transit connections, along with danger to pedestrians and population density.
The result was an uneven distribution through the city's eight wards, and a concentration of sidewalks in the most populated areas. The lone major adjustment addressed the particularly low number of sidewalks included in Ward 7 in northeast Oklahoma City.
A section of NE 63 between Broadway and Martin Luther King was re-evaluated as a single piece as opposed to two pieces, which means it's now among the 26 miles of projects the city expects to complete no matter what.
“The key was the connectivity. If you grab those two miles and link them together, it really boosted its rating,” Oklahoma City MAPS program director David Todd said.