So what’s this study I’ve been talking about? Go here and read it, and then come back …
So let’s start this off with what Dennis Clowers has to say about the rejected proposal to change the E.K. Gaylord/NW 4 intersection:
We asked URS to study this issue and make a recommendation on it. We did not tell them up front the recommendation we wanted. The current traffic count on Broadway between 4th and 6th is 13,500. It drops a little just south of there, to around 11,800. In my opinion, with the current traffic count, it would be a bad idea to eliminate the curve and make the Gaylord/Broadway, NW 3th area a series of 90 degree turns.
That situation would get worse when I-40 is opened and we have a full interchange at I-40 and Robinson/Shields. The traffic on Shields/Gaylord/Broadway will only increase.
So that’s what the expert says. With all due respect, it’s my job to second guess the experts, show when they’ve been wrong, and ask whether they’re wrong again.
So let’s start with a fact I think most of us can agree on: until recently automotive traffic has been the sole consideration for city engineers. If this weren’t so, would we really have built Memorial Road through Quail Springs without sidewalks?
Should this history dictate, especially downtown, that there be complete imbalance now toward pedestrian needs? I’m not suggesting that at all. City staff say they want a balanced, common sense approach on all this. I have no reason to doubt them.
But I do have some doubts as to whether there’s a been a thoughtful discussion when it comes to E.K. Gaylord/Broadway/NW 4 and Robert S. Kerr.
I know for sure it’s not had the sort of discussion that was supposed to occur as a result of the downtown master planning that occurred about 2000/2001 as Downtown Oklahoma City Inc was being formed.
For weeks and months most of downtown’s movers and shakers met at the McAlpine Center to not just dream up a new downtown, but to make it happen. They talked about making downtown more walkable. And one thing that sticks in my mind was a question asked early on by Chuck Wiggin, owner of 101 Park Ave: is this going to be another excersise where a lot of things are said but nothing is really done?
A decade later, the answer to that is mixed. Some of the action plan was implemented, but one significant step, the creation of permanent committees to review and analyze downtown development never took place. The idea was quite simple: at the end of the day city staff might be very talented, but they are missing the insight of those who are truly invested in downtown. These folks basically agreed that more input on downtown development wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Those committees quickly disappeared. I’ll leave to others to answer Chuck’s original question. But what if downtown civic leaders had been given the chance to review the chamber’s proposal for recreating the E.K. Gaylord intersection? Would they have agreed with the conclusion by city engineers?
Can anyone truly say this proposal got a public hearing?
Why can’t this discussion still take place? Once upon a time city engineers insisted the canal had to be built in three segments instead of two – a design that would have created a boat turnaround where the Centennial Fountain is, instead of south of I-40. I don’t know of anyone now who thinks that was a good idea.
Could city staff be wrong on this one? Am I horrible to ask such a thing?
Tomorrow: answering questions that weren’t asked and not answering questions that were asked.