The Norman Transcript

January 5, 2014

Main Street bridge completion still on track by May

By Andy Rieger
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A year ago Monday, crews began knocking down the Main Street overpass and prepared to widen I-35 from four to six lanes north and south of Main. The $30 million project should be completed this spring to begin constructing a portion of the permanent roadway.

On Friday night, the southbound lanes were shifted onto the two new lanes. That will allow Manhattan Road and Bridge Co., and Allen Contracting to continue the project.

Crews have kept Main Street open but it’s been a tough year for those residents who normally use Main to traverse east and west Norman. Tougher yet on the businesses in Sooner Mall and along Ed Noble Parkway. Don’t say we were not warned.

New signage installed by the City of Norman will help direct travelers to interstate drive and other destinations but drivers are creatures of habit and won’t always find the detours.

The next overpass to be rebuilt will be at Highway 9 East, followed by Lindsey Street. Those should be more of a challenge for drivers as the roads won’t stay open.

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Everybody has a story.

Maybe it’s the journalist in me that makes me so darn curious about people I meet in airports. At DFW last month a young cowboy in a black hat, starched jeans, dinner-plate sized belt buckle, cowboy shirt and red neckerchief paced around Gate B22 as we awaited our ride to Tennessee.

He was a story waiting to be told. Give me five minutes and I can open him up.

Born in New Mexico, he began riding bulls and horses as a youngster. He now follows the professional circuit, riding horses, saddle broncs and bulls. He lives in south Texas brush country now, near country singer George Strait.

Most years he earns a six-figure income but he hasn’t been home to New Mexico in months. He’s had 22 broken bones. Teeth? Don’t ask.

He was headed to Knoxville and yet another rodeo, definitely not his first. His handshake was firm and memorable for the crumpled fingers. Makes my job look easy.

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A possible 10-year extension of the city’s half-cent, public safety sales tax will be the topic of Monday night’s 6 p.m. meeting at city hall.

Some local business leaders are looking to slow-down the process to get some better numbers on projects planned for the temporary tax which voters approved in 2008.

Since then, it’s brought in nearly $42 million for police and fire positions and various capital improvements.

Coupled with the county’s half-cent jail sales tax, residents are paying a full one percent of their taxable purchases for police and fire, something that was formerly paid for out of regular sales tax funding and property tax levies.

Waiting in the wings are other worthwhile projects. Supporters of city park development, a new swimming complex, downtown and eastside libraries as well as other causes are watching developments from the sidelines.

Andy Rieger

editor@normantranscript.com

366-3543

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