NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
The street project was on its way until a group calling themselves a “visioning committee” made proposals that would dramatically change major parts of the plan that Norman voters have already approved.
Their reasoning, taken from the city attorney’s interpretation, is that “other improvements” in the ballot language allows the city to make major changes that weren’t mentioned in previous public meetings and council planning sessions.
Roundabouts: The OU group, spearheaded by President Boren, wants to implant at least three roundabouts at Murphy, Wylie and Berry, instead of the stoplights. They would supposedly slow the traffic flow and change the image of Lindsey itself, making it more like a “boulevard” than an arterial street (Boren’s words).
Narrow Lindsey: Instead of widening Lindsey, the group calls for making it one lane either way, forcing drivers to slow down, making the street from McGee to Berry more “pedestrian and bicycle friendly.”
Median: Boren calls for a median to run the length of the street, with trees and bushes in the median, developing what he called a “boulevard.” He said it would make a beautiful portal” to OU.
Money: The roundabouts would require the city buying or taking the people’s land through eminent domain at Berry, Wylie and Murphy, estimated by the group to be about $5 million, money that wasn’t in the plan we voted on.
Timing: These changes would also extend the timing of the entire project so the city would not be able to meet the ODOT deadline set for I-35, a critical part of the Lindsey plan. This delay would place an unknown obstacle to the city’s goal to marry up with the I-35 corridor construction.
Federal consideration: We must ask ourselves, will the government put out funds for reducing the traffic flow (one lane either way) when the request is to make a smaller road? No one has an answer, and the risk of being turned down in the future is large.