By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Editor’s note: This is part two in a two part series on connecting Norman through Greenway corridors
Richard McKown is a developer who is well known for his commitment to the environment and innovative green strategies in planning and building environmentally friendly residential spaces. Now, he has a progressive idea for Norman — a demonstration project on Franklin Road west of Interstate 35.
“If we look at our transportation dollars, right now the only way we spend transportation money is more, wider lanes,” McKown said. “Let’s take those dollars and spend them more appropriately on multiple forms of transportation instead of just more 60 mile per hour driving lanes. We could begin to move toward a better walking environment, and we could use some of those transportation dollars toward greenbelt development.”
The developing area at Franklin Road provides an opportunity for the city to do a special demonstration project.
“What I would love to see us do, is build a new two-lane road with turn lanes at the intersections where you have the J&J PUD (future housing addition) on the north and Carrington (housing addition) on the south,” McKown said. “The logic here is a two-lane road would carry 17,000 cars a day. A four-lane road would carry 32,000 cars a day.
“That little one mile between west 36th and west 48th even at full build out will never carry more than 10,000 cars a day at most, and the reason it would be an interesting demonstration project is we — the development partnership group — have the majority of the frontage on both sides of the road.”
McKown is proposing turn lanes at the entrances to the neighborhoods, significant pedestrian facilities, bike lanes and tree planting along the corridor.
“Tree planting is huge to improve the walkability of the road,” McKown said. “There should be some savings (in cost) as compared to building four-lanes. What we would like to propose is take the savings and use that money to build part of the walking trails in Ruby Grant Park.”
The trails at Ruby Grant could connect up with Carrington, though it would be necessary to cross 36th Avenue he said. Stormwater innovations could also be used in that corridor.
“We could design Franklin Road with a totally different approach to drainage,” McKown said. “Instead of conventional storm drainage, we could use various open vegetative swales — rain garden technology — all kinds of things that would promote the growth of trees and would eventually grow up and shade the road and create one of those amazing tree tunnels.”
McKown said he would put roundabouts at 36th and Franklin Road and possibly at Indian Hills Road and 36th Avenue.
The city discussed the use of roundabouts along Lindsey Street to slow traffic and make that corridor more pedestrian friendly, but roundabouts use a wider swatch of right of way and work best when incorporated into developing areas. With development occurring on Franklin Road, the city has an opportunity to incorporate trees and roundabouts rather than trying to retrofit older, more developed areas.
McKown serves on Norman’s Green Belt Commission and his housing projects at Carrington Place and Trail Woods additions have been commended by city staff and the city’s Environmental Advisory Board for their forward thinking, environmentally friendly elements.
In Oklahoma City’s downtown Deep Deuce, McKown built Level Urban Apartments as a high density, environmentally friendly urban project complete with interior green space, a health food store, and on-site recycling collection next to the trash collections.
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