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In Norman, one street serves as a major thoroughfare ... and a major headache for residents.
Street, between 24th Avenue Southwest and Berry Road, could be
considered one of the most congested streets in the metropolitan area,
and during major events such as University of Oklahoma football home
games or the Medieval Fair of Norman, that road can be nearly
“It’s awfully congested, especially the closer you get to the OU campus,” says Norman resident Thom Hackelman. “The challenge I see is that the road is two lanes the entire way. There are lots of businesses that people frequent in the area, and you’ll get a pretty heavy amount of congestion.”
The college town is looking to change that. In August, city leaders will ask voters to consider a $42 million transportation bond issue to not only widen Lindsey, but tackle seven other transportation projects throughout the city. If passed, the bond will qualify Norman for federal money through matching funds.
“Money is available from the federal government, and if this transportation bond issue passes in August, we could get $47 million from the feds,” says Stefanie Brickman, communications manager for the Norman Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s a huge project. All eight wards are included in the entire package.”
Although a similar bond package was voted down in the 1970s and ’80s, this will be the first time the bond will be considered since Norman increased to a more-than-100,000 population, Brickman says. If approved by voters in August, the city will undertake more than $89 million in road and drainage improvements throughout the city.
“The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is working on the interchange at Interstate 35 and Lindsey Street, and we’d like to coincide the widening of Lindsey with that project,” says Shawn O’Leary, Norman public works director.
“We have a timeline for all eight projects of about six years, with construction on Lindsey starting in 2016. While that seems like a ways down the road, it’s a short three years. If the bond package is successful, we’ll immediately start in on design and roll out the door with bid letting.”
The Lindsey Street total cost is the largest chunk of the proposed bond package, coming in at $21.5 million. Once construction begins, the project would be complete in one year, O’Leary says.
“We want to coordinate the Lindsey construction with ODOT’s project, so it’s all done at once. It will take a year to complete, and that seems to resonate with the community and the businesses,” he says. “Business owners know it will be painful, but the consensus seems to be that the issues on Lindsey are chronic and aren’t going to go away.”
Residents also are affected by Lindsey’s poor drainage.
“‘Lake McGee’ forms at the intersection of McGee and Lindsey during heavy rains,” Brickman says. “The infrastructure was never designed to handle that kind of rain. I can’t imagine voters turning down this vote or the federal money that we’ll get. That’s $47 million in federal money."