Tear it up

The work centers on a new portion of Project 180 streetscape projects that will begin Oct. 24 and focus on a two-block area, as opposed to numerous street closings and detours that occurred with the initial phase in 2010 and 2011.

Specifically, crews will begin work on Dean A. McGee Avenue extending from Robinson to Broadway avenues, on Robinson Avenue from McGee to Park Avenue and the intersection of Robinson and McGee avenues.

“These will be much smaller work zones to reduce the inconvenience,” Eric Wenger, OKC’s Public Works Director, said. “We will limit the demolition and reconstruction to two to three blocks at a given time.”

Project 180 is a $176 million redesign of downtown streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas to improve appearance and make the area more pedestrian-friendly, city officials said.

Multiple funding sources have been used, including $40 million in general obligation bonds, $11
million from the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust and $125 million
from a Tax Increment Financing district created with the construction of
the Devon Tower. The cost of the current project is $6.8 million.

in the construction zones will remain open, and pedestrians will be
protected by concrete barriers as street repairs get underway, Wenger

“Once the street
work is completed, then the crews will work on the sidewalks, but they
won’t be done at the same time,” he said. “This will be more challenging
to do detours and more challenging for pedestrians, but construction is
always difficult no matter when you do it.”

In addition, crews will work around major downtown events as they occur, Wenger said.

a prelude to the new construction, city officials will have a public
meeting 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at City Hall, 200 N. Walker Ave., to inform
downtown workers, business owners and other citizens about the work.

officials hope the McGee-Robinson intersection will be fully open and
operational by next spring, followed by the Kerr/Robinson intersection
to east-west traffic next summer. All work should be finished by spring
2015, Wenger said.

more rounds of downtown road work have not been bid but are projected
to be complete by the summer of 2016. Some of that work will include
E.K. Gaylord Boulevard from Main Street to Reno Ave.

New opportunities
the last three years, the city has completed five stages of Project
180, including work on East Main Street, North Walker Avenue, Sheridan,
North Robinson, North Harvey and NW Fifth Street.

The improvements, Wenger said, allow downtown workers and pedestrians a chance to enjoy new landscaping and streetscapes.

very common now to see people walking downtown, people running downtown
and eating lunch in the streetscape areas. We’re seeing a lot more
activity because of the convenience” created by the projects, Wenger

“Those things
didn’t happen before Project 180, but now that the beautification and
walkability exists, it gives people the opportunity to do that,” he

The previous
projects covered 19,426 linear feet at a cost of $48.2 million,
according to figures provided by public works spokeswoman Shannon Cox.

Tim Farley

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