Our look back at the ULI panel’s analysis of Core to Shore continues…
Given the profound transportation changes—the relocated I-40, the new Boulevard, and the streetcar project—occurring in and around downtown, it is vital that Oklahoma City use the best technology available in order to be able to make the most informed decisions regarding connectivity and circulation.
Older, regional traffic models that were used for previous analyses, including the I-40 relocation studies, are being replaced by a newer model that is more sensitive to local transportation needs. A new, regional, multimodal model that is under development will provide an excellent basis for fine-tuning a model specific to downtown and its environs and should be used to test transportation and development scenarios.
Expectations for the streetcar project funded by MAPS 3 should be kept in perspective. Travel demand modeling will be especially important for decisions about the streetcar project. Although streetcars elsewhere have created a positive image for neighborhoods, their part in spurring development is less clear. Streetcars tend to be one of many factors that support development.
In light of transit’s limited role in the city now and the less-than-conducive conditions for greater transit use, transit planning is essential. The streetcar’s purpose, routing, and costs deserve careful consideration. The panel is concerned that the community may be moving too aggressively too soon to implement the streetcar.
The panel recommends that a downtown access and circulation master plan be produced using a travel demand model specially tailored to the downtown area. The purpose of the master plan is to coordinate the function, capacity, and design of all transportation facilities and services.
The upcoming alternatives analysis for the streetcar should be coordinated with the downtown access and circulation master plan. The alternative analysis will compare ridership estimates for different routes; other factors that should be considered include how easily riders understand the route and the total cost per rider for each alternative. These factors will provide a better understanding of the best value for the MAPS 3 investment.