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July 26, 2013

Lindsey Street set for a makeover

NORMAN — Imagine if west Lindsey Street looked more like Campus Corner or downtown, with gently flowing traffic, bicyclists and people walking and laughing. Imagine trees and sidewalk cafes. Imagine Lindsey Street as more of a village and less of a strip mall.

Imagine Lindsey Street as a destination to meander through and enjoy on the way to the university.

“You get one good chance to reinvent Lindsey, and it’s now,” community planner Dan Burden told a full house at Legends Times Two on Thursday evening. “A great street is something that harvests the best of the community and sets a template for the community.”

Burden is the co-founder and director of innovation and inspiration at the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, a nonprofit that helps communities build healthier, more livable environments. He spoke to Norman residents and stakeholders about the possibilities for Lindsey Street to become a model of what a great street can be.

Currently, Lindsey is ranked as the No. 1 traffic congestion corridor in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, with a crash rate nearly three times the national average for similar roadways. In August, Norman voters approved a $42 million transportation bond package with 62 percent support. Federal matching funds will pay for a strong portion of the eight proposed projects in the bond package.

The Lindsey Street widening and storm drainage portion of that bond package accounts for more than $21 million — half the total approved package. Federal funds will pay an additional $11.5 million of the Lindsey project costs.

The vision for Lindsey presented to voters included landscaping, continuous sidewalks, bike lanes, two lanes of traffic each way and a center turn lane.

That cement river of road between cement seas of parking lots and strip malls is exactly what Norman should avoid, said Burden and his team, Lynn Richards, Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Michael Wallwork, an engineer with 40 years of experience in traffic engineering, road construction and transportation design.

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