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May 5, 2014

Developer has green proposal for city

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.”

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