The Norman Transcript

October 20, 2013

Let’s build a more efficient traffic pattern for Lindsey Street


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Harold Heiple made a couple of points  in his letter of Oct. 10 about CFRG’s stance regarding the Lindsey Street project and voter issues. 

When I referenced contract law bearing directly upon voters’ approval of a ballot, I was making a comparison without a legal, punitive intent. 

I used that reference to envision the state of mind that voters have when they enter the ballot box.

They reasonably expect to see a completed project much like the ideas set forth in public meetings and Council discussions. That expectation is very similar to a contract, because voters hope they will get a financial and timely outcome close to what has been proposed.

I agree with Harold about the vote count.  Issues are often decided on small numbers. 

However, we elect council members and a mayor on paltry percentages, less than 18 percent last time, and regardless of the small “yes” number, the issue has been decided. CFRG does not want another vote on the Lindsey project.

It would be foolish.  We only want the city to follow the design and cost structures set forth by the engineering consultants. Those things are posted on our web site (CFRGnorman.com) for the public to study.

Voters’ expectations form a concept of an agreement, or a “contract” with the city.  We voted to improve Lindsey.  Let’s follow that plan.

Does “other improvements” in ballot language give the city the right to make huge changes to nearly every aspect of the engineering design?  As an attorney for the developers in Norman, Harold knows the restrictions on site plans (Sec 19.320 of the city code).

The city does not allow the development community to change a site plan more than 5 percent without city council approval. 

As a parallel, how can voters make a decision on any project they vote for if it is subjected to major changes, not minor ones, with the final costs growing excessively larger than proposed? Harold recently talked to me about a Berry/Lindsey roundabout, an OU/Burden-group idea. 

That would increase the project by a minimum of one million dollars and force the city to purchase land  due to the large size of the structure. I don’t think anyone would call that a “minor improvement.”  And it begs the question. When do the minor improvements and increased costs end? What and where is financial responsibility, especially when it is being manipulated by individuals with experience in spending other people’s money, generating more debt for Norman homeowners to pay? Why have a vote at all if the ballot is entirely open-ended?

 Any ballot issue sets goals for voters to consider, and the main goal for Lindsey is to move traffic more efficiently and safely into and out of the university area as well as that part of Norman. 

Our city staff has advised us that the plan of four lanes and stoplights at intersections is the best one.  We are likewise facing a time frame to tie in with ODOT’s construction on I-35.

Let’s improve the flow from Imhoff Creek, build a more efficient traffic pattern for Lindsey, and show the voters that their money is well spent.

Roger Gallagher

Norman