W Lindsey business owners in Norman concerned about widening plan

W Lindsey Street business owners and residents expressed concerns at an informational meeting about a widening project along W Lindsey that will convert the three-lane roadway to a divided, four-lane road with bike lanes, pedestrian walkways and bus turnarounds.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Published: April 5, 2014
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A plan to widen W Lindsey Street from three to four lanes has business owner Tim Sweatte concerned that his drive-in restaurant may suffer economically from the change.

Classic 50’s Drive-In has been in the same location at 1521 W Lindsey for 57 years, Sweatte said.

“It’s been a successful run. Lindsey was still a dirt road when my father, Juel Glenn Sweatte, opened it as Glenn’s Drive-In,” Sweatte said.

The drive-in later was operated for 28 years as a Sonic, until becoming the Classic 50’s Drive-In in 1985. Its main business — at least, 80 percent — is college students, Sweatte said.

Widening Lindsey to four lanes between 24th Avenue SW and Berry Road, with a landscaped median, will mean cars leaving his drive-in will have to exit west away from the University of Oklahoma campus.

“Will college students like that? Most of them are needing to go east toward campus,” he said. “Right now, drivers can choose to go either east or west. I’m two-dimensional. I feel like they are trying to make me one-dimensional.”

His concerns are shared by McDonald’s franchisee Kevin Brennan, who says his drive-in at 1720 W Lindsey relies on ease of entrance-exit and high visibility, to draw in its customer base.

Widening Lindsey may improve the ease of getting in or out of the drive-in, “or it may not. I simply can’t tell,” Brennan said. “If it improves it, it’s a win. If not, then it hurts us a lot.”

Both Sweatte and Brennan are concerned that landscaping in the median also will reduce their visibility.

“McDonald’s is kind of an impulse-buy type of place. You see it and then decide to stop, so visibility is very important to us,” said Brennan.

Sweatte and Brennan were among business owners, property owners and city residents who flocked to an informational meeting about the widening project Thursday at Sooner Legends, sponsored by the city, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and consultants working on the plan.

Voters approved a $42 million bond issue in August 2012 to pay for eight transportation projects, including widening W Lindsey and fixing long-standing drainage problems, particularly at Lindsey and McGee Drive.

“I grew up walking through the waters of Lake McGee to get to middle school, and I’ve seen my share of Lindsey Street accidents, so this project is near and dear to my heart,” Councilman Tom Kovach said.

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by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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