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Council approves Western Ave. improvements




Larger sidewalks, medians to slow traffic, bicycle parking and dozens of new trees are coming to the Western Avenue business district following approval from the Oklahoma City council to fund a street scape project.

“This is probably the most progressive streetscape project outside of Project 180,” said Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, comparing the Western Ave. project to the work being done downtown to increase pedestrian infrastructure.

Drawing further comparisons with Project 180, Shadid said he was hopeful the city had learned some lessons about a massive construction project in a business district and would be able to do its work on Western Ave. without as much turmoil.

“This certainly will be a burden for the businesses,” Shadid said. “But we really need to support those businesses during this construction.”

Construction will take place one block at a time with traffic reduced to sharing one lane during periods of time next year.

  • Institute for Quality Communities

The Institute for Quality Communities was contracted by the city to make streetscape recommendations and presented a plan that increases walkability throughout the popular uptown shopping district. Renderings from IQC show the addition of mediums in crosswalks that are designed to slow down cars and increases in sidewalk size, including in front of Will Rogers Theater, which can often feature pedestrians cramming between sidewalk tables and angled parked cars along the street.

Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan was the only council member to vote against the project and raised concerns prior to his vote that construction could hurt the businesses along Western Ave. Some business owners said they were expecting sales to decline during construction and were already saving money to make it through, but were excited for the improvements.

“As a small business owner, especially a relatively new small business owner, the idea of the construction time is terrifying,” said Able Blakley. “It’s one of those things where it will be amazing and I’m completely 100 percent in support of it ... if I can live through it.”

Link: read more information about IQC's recommendations for Western Ave., along with some renderings. 

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