Recommended Oklahoma City Boulevard design meets skepticism

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: December 3, 2012

Consultants on Monday touted a design recommendation for part of the Oklahoma City Boulevard as the best mix of friendliness to traffic and development, but a wave of local residents voiced skepticism that the plan will provide the grand, revitalizing parkway that many envisioned.

Oklahoma City officials and officials from Stantec, a consulting firm, presented their recommended design for a complicated western section of the boulevard at a public meeting Monday at the Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center. Stantec has been retained by the city to study the section where the boulevard will cross Reno and Western avenues and Classen Boulevard.

The recommendation is to construct an overpass above Western, which would be joined by new construction with Classen where the roads meet the boulevard.

But after the consultants presented a series of animations and drawings that focused primarily on the traffic impacts of the various designs, many of the roughly 400 people who attended the meeting voiced their reservations about the entire design process.

“We seem to have given up on slowing this down and making this (boulevard) a friendly place for people to live,” said Sean Cummings, owner of Sean Cummings' Irish Pub and an Oklahoma City resident.

Design defended

Stantec consultants and Oklahoma City Public Works Director Eric Wenger defended the recommended design, saying the plan minimizes the length of an above-grade roadway and is friendlier to pedestrians than other designs.

Consultants made their recommendation based on a variety of criteria, including how easy the boulevard would be for drivers and pedestrians and cyclists to navigate, along with how it affects traffic.

Stantec's Bill Farris said other designs suffered when being evaluated because of things such as extra-wide intersections, or because traffic would be likely to stack up at different points of access to the boulevard.

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