If you've paid any attention to recent trends in urban highways, you'd guess that there was a universal shift from construction, to demolition, of America's urban highways. Well, one city is bucking that trend entirely. Engineers at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, seeking to cater to a growing volume of motorists, are looking to complete a decades old plan for an elevated highway in Downtown Oklahoma City.
"Now, as state highway engineers are about to let out construction bids for the road, they're encountering a buzz-saw of criticism that the road will kill development south of the road by Classen Boulevard and will recreate the old highway barriers that blighted the area a half-century ago," reports NewsOK's Steve Lackmeyer.
The highway proposal, dating from the 1990s, represents a much different time in Oklahoma City's history. Lackmeyer cites the city's new downtown development - like Devon Energy Center, Bricktown Ballpark, and the Bricktown Canal - that didn't exist at the time of the highway's initial proposition. Additionally, some argue the highway represents an old way of thinking about roadway design, and that urban transportation policy has evolved to include all forms of transportation, not just catering to the automobile. Hence any plans to change roads in the city, they argue, should consider a multi-modal approach.
From a bigger picture point-of-view, the highway signifies another lasting aspect of transportation planning in America, that of regional interests conflicting with local interest. The current Mayor, and many citizens, have adamantly fought against the proposal, some as far back as its initial unveiling. Still, state officials and city engineers continue to pitch their case for the elevated highway.