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Thread: Friends for a Better Boulevard

  1. #2676
    Urban Pioneer is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Stantec isn't going to do anything unless they have payment and a work order from the City Manager or Public Works Director.

  2. #2677
    DavidD_NorthOKC is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Nothing says another entity could not ask (and pay) Stantec to run the model with a properly designed Option 'D'. I know no one on the city payroll is going to ask for anything that will reveal the "stakeholders" are wrong - because at least one of them is on the same board as those stakeholders.

    That brings up an interesting question though. Are we doing what is really best for the city, or are we doing what a handful of people want because there are city employees too close to those "stakeholders"? I'm not into the conspiratorial nonsense, but the city prejudiced the evaluation process with the "through movement" requirement they placed on Stantec just as much as ODOT has done so with the latest set of options. For some reason no one in city hall or ODOT seems to want an objective review of the options available.

    That doesn't make sense given all the talk about making downtown Oklahoma City walkable and an enjoyable place to be. Or maybe it was just talk and OKC "stakeholders" really think Northwest Expressway is the ultimate in urban planning and design.

    But only ODOT is accountable to the FHWA for conducting an objective NEPA review process. That is why the letters and public input are so important over the next day or two.

  3. #2678
    Tier2City is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    From today's Gazette:
    http://npaper-wehaa.com/oklahoma-gaz...rticle=2251092

    Building better streets the best way
    BY JEFF BEZDEK

    The Oklahoma City Boulevard project is an extraordinary opportunity to renew a blighted area of our city and reconnect our downtown with the Oklahoma River, the OKC Farmers Market District, Capitol Hill and the recently announced Wheeler District. It is an opportunity to establish planning precedents and prepare these areas for success as our downtown continues to grow and prosper. It is also a decision that will impact the viability of the nearly one billion-dollar investment of MAPS 3 and other taxpayer monies in the area around the former I-40 Crosstown.

    So why would we even consider doing this wrong and reestablishing a physical barrier that bifurcates these burgeoning areas?

    The fear stems from 20th-century thinking that a downtown without a bypass will suffer horrible congestion. The cultural problem is with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT). As one of the largest state agencies, ODOT is overseen by nonelected officials and operates with unappropriated funding. As a result, the agency functions with limited public and legislative oversight.

    Friends for a Better Boulevard (FBB) and citizen support helped change that. As a result, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) required ODOT to undergo a new environmental assessment on the project, which has provided the public and city leaders greater opportunity to offer meaningful input to ensure that this project is built in a “better” way.

    It is not FBB’s intent to delay the project. We think that this area of downtown should be reconnected and revitalized as soon as possible. We also believe that there are legitimate concerns on how to handle additional traffic downtown.

    The question now is, How will this play out? A large number of people support not building the curvilinear portion of the boulevard and instead reestablishing the street grid. Unfortunately, project engineers do not support that type of design. At issue is the traffic modeling used by ODOT to justify the boulevard. While I think the numbers are inflated and incorrect, there is no way to fight the issue beyond the ongoing public process without incurring significant legal expense.

    I encourage you to submit your opinions for or against the street grid, or curvilinear development, to ODOT and the FWHA through Friday. Find the comment form for both at okladot.state.ok.us/meetings/a2014/140507/commentform.pdf.

    FBB has avoided endorsing a specific plan. We have instead pressed for an extended public comment period and proper environmental review. One reason for the surge of activism on this issue has been the absence from ODOT on details regarding traffic control, sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, transit stops, landscaping and improved urban connectivity that provides proper mitigation and prevents the boulevard project from creating another barrier that divides our city.

    Mayor Mick Cornett has pledged that he wants the boulevard to be OKC’s “grandest street.” The question is, Is anyone at ODOT listening?

    Jeff Bezdek is President of Bezdek + Associates and is cofounder of Friends for a Better Boulevard with Bob Kemper.

  4. #2679
    Hutch is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Quote Originally Posted by Urban Pioneer View Post
    Also, we have received confirmation this morning that the rumor being spread around in the past by certain City officials that Boulevard money cannot be spent to carry out D, is false.

    Federal money can be spent to implement "D" and would be considered an appropriate use of mitigation monies should that option be selected.
    There continues to be questions and concerns expressed by the public regarding this issue. So, I am posting the following email response that I received from the FHWA concerning the matter, as they have submitted it to ODOT and made it part of the official public record.

    Clearly, there are numerous street and intersection improvements identified in both Alternative C and D that fall significantly outside of the original footprint and right-of-way of the original I-40 alignment. The FHWA has confirmed that federal funding applies to all of those improvements. Under the new Environmental Assessment being conducted by ODOT, federal funding obviously would apply to any additional proposed street and intersection improvements to either C or D that serve to mitigate the environmental impacts, including socioeconomic and other impacts to the community, resulting from the relocation of the old I-40 AND the design and construction of the new boulevard project.

    (My emphasis added)

    From: Elizabeth.Romero@dot.gov [mailto:Elizabeth.Romero@dot.gov]
    Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 11:34 AM
    To: m-coordinator@odot.org
    Cc: Elizabeth.Romero@dot.gov; mariohutch@sbcglobal.net
    Subject: FW: Federal Funding for Boulevard

    The FHWA Oklahoma Division has received this e-mail and we are requesting that you accept and consider this public comment as part of the public involvement process for the proposed Oklahoma City Crosstown Boulevard Project.

    Thank you,

    Elizabeth A. Romero
    Planning and Technical Services Team Leader
    Federal Highway Administration – Oklahoma Division
    5801 N. Broadway Extension, Suite 300
    Oklahoma City, OK 73118
    Office: 405-254-3300


    From: Romero, Elizabeth (FHWA)
    Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 11:28 AM
    To: Marion Hutchison
    Cc: Romero, Elizabeth (FHWA)
    Subject: RE: Federal Funding for Boulevard

    Mr. Hutchinson,

    I received your phone call along with this e-mail and I am using this e-mail to respond to both.

    All alternatives currently under consideration in the OKC Crosstown Boulevard environmental assessment (EA) are eligible for federal funding.

    Thank you,

    Elizabeth A. Romero
    Planning and Technical Services Team Leader
    Federal Highway Administration – Oklahoma Division
    5801 N. Broadway Extension, Suite 300
    Oklahoma City, OK 73118
    Office: 405-254-3300


    From: Marion Hutchison [mailto:mariohutch@sbcglobal.net]
    Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 12:22 PM
    To: Romero, Elizabeth (FHWA)
    Subject: RE: Federal Funding for Boulevard

    Ms. Romero:

    I left you another message today concerning the question of the applicability of federal funding that I addressed in my previous email and that we discussed on the phone last week. Mr. Bob Kemper, Chair of Friends for a Better Boulevard, called me this morning to tell me that he had just met with ODOT Director Mike Patterson to discuss the Crosstown Boulevard project. As part of that discussion, Mr. Kemper asked Mr. Patterson about the extent to which ODOT can use federal funding for Alternative D. Mr. Patterson told Mr. Kemper that based on the original I-40 agreements with the FHWA that it was his understanding that federal funding only applies to work done specifically within the right-of-way of the original I-40 alignment and that federal money can’t be spent on anything outside that right-of-way, which would include a substantial amount of the work necessary for implementing Alternative D.

    It would seem that any work necessary to implement Alternative D for the purposes of mitigating the environmental impacts of the relocation of the original I-40, including reestablishment of the street network in order to provide necessary access, connectivity and mobility in the affected area should qualify for federal funds regardless of whether or not it specifically lies within the original I-40 right-of-way.

    Could you once again please clarify this issue for me. I would appreciate it if you would address my question directly, as opposed to forwarding it to ODOT, as it is clear what their position is on the issue. My concern is that they are relying on the intent of documents more than a decade old, and that due to the same change in conditions that precipitated the current additional Environmental Assessment work on the project, including the consideration of new alternatives, that there has also been a necessary change in the specifics of how the federal funding for the project may be applied.

    This is an extremely important matter, as the determination of the extent of the applicability of federal funding to the various alternatives has a tremendous impact on the support given to those various alternatives by the public, City of Oklahoma City and ODOT.

    At your earliest convenience, can you please let me know whether or not the federal funding for the boulevard project is applicable to various components of Alternative D that serve mitigation purposes and lie outside the footprint of the original I-40 right-of-way.

    Thanks again for your assistance.

    Marion Hutchison
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  5. #2680
    Urban Pioneer is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Well and the real problem is, that certain key engineers at the city have propogated ODOT's pespective about being unable to spend funds outside of the original alignment. Propagated this perspective not only with many in the public, but also the City Council.

    And as a result, there are several City Council members who do believe it, and it obviously may not even be true.

  6. #2681
    SouthwestAviator is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Today is the day! This is a critical opportunity to influence the project development process for the OKC Crosstown Boulevard project.

    There have been some great postings and analyses written in the last few weeks. Just because you may have already submitted a comment doesn't mean you can't submit another one. For a couple of minutes of your time you can make sure that key decision makers and your political representatives are aware of these important issues. You can simply cut and paste any of the links below into a quick email and request that the issues raised in these postings be substantively addressed as part of the Environmental Assessment.

    Send your email to:

    ODOT: m-coordinator@odot.org
    FHWA: elizabeth.romero@dot.gov
    Mayor: mayor@okc.gov
    your council person: ward(n)@okc.gov (e.g., if you live in Meg Salyer's ward, Ward 6, then email ward6@okc.gov)

    The OKC Boulevard: Why We Choose Alternative D
    http://www.betterblockokc.com/the-ok...alternative-d/

    ODOT's Traffic Projections for the OKC Boulevard
    http://www.betterblockokc.com/blvdtraffic/

    How the OKC Boulevard Will Impact Commuters
    http://www.betterblockokc.com/boulevardcommute/

    New Visuals from ODOT
    http://www.betterblockokc.com/new-visuals-from-odot/

    More Questions than Answers on the Downtown Boulevard
    http://www.newsok.com/more-questions...rticle/4747385

    A Better View of the Boulevard Design "Scored" Highest by ODOT
    http://www.newsok.com/a-better-view-...rticle/4747474

    Design Changes Proposed for Downtown Boulevard
    http://www.newsok.com/design-changes...rticle/4845069

    Analysis of the Current Alternative D for the Crosstown Boulevard Project
    http://www.okctalk.com/images/pete/alternated.pdf

  7. #2682
    DavidD_NorthOKC is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Thank you for compiling all these unanswered questions for everyone to consider Southwest Aviator. All these issues and concerns have gone unanswered by ODOT for some reason. The Federal Highway Administration has once again exposed ODOT for misleading the public and city engineers for misleading elected city officials - federal funds CAN be used to improve California and 3rd Street to reconfigure them as dual boulevards AND to reconnect the street grid destroyed by the old I-40. This is clearly within reasonable expectation as mitigation for removing the old Crosstown freeway.

    For everyone that still hopes to impact the final decision, this represents an opportunity to influence that decision even though we may not be a "stakeholder" as defined by a few city leaders. The environmental review process REQUIRES public concerns to be addressed in a substantive manner as SWA stated. This means they cannot legally blow off legitimate public concerns hoping to run out the clock. Every link SWA posted are legitimate public concerns ODOT has failed to address.

    My suggestion is to simply copy and paste the links and other information in SWA's post in an email to ODOT and the FHWA asking them to address each of the concerns raised as required by NEPA. This will force ODOT to make a good faith effort (or at least get closer to one) in designing Alternative 'D' at the same level of detail and effort as their preferred alternative. Only after that is finally done can any objective evaluation be conducted to determine the best design for Oklahoma City.

    Once a truly objective analysis is possible, I remain confident Alternative 'D' / "The Grid" will be proven far superior to anything ODOT or city engineers have presented both from a traffic capacity standpoint, but especially a development and walkability perspective. I encourage everyone who has any interest in this to keep making your voice heard - it has worked amazingly well over the last couple of years and we have accomplished much. Use today's opportunity to take the information SWA provided and demand answers from the public officials who are supposed to be working for the greatest public benefit; not just for a few "stakeholders".

  8. #2683
    OKCisOK4me's Avatar
    OKCisOK4me is offline Braden Palm
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Got a response from Eric Wenger today. Don't really know if it's automated or authentic but being that I emailed him before the "first" deadline, it may be real cause that's a long delay.
    My body was born in Norman, but my soul came from Stillwater.

  9. #2684
    cafeboeuf is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Quote Originally Posted by OKCisOK4me View Post
    Got a response from Eric Wenger today. Don't really know if it's automated or authentic but being that I emailed him before the "first" deadline, it may be real cause that's a long delay.
    I received one as well today.

  10. #2685
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  11. #2686
    betts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    So they weren't consulted for input?

  12. #2687
    David is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    No access here, can someone summarize their concerns?

  13. #2688
    cafeboeuf is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    No access here, can someone summarize their concerns?
    Ditto.

    Didn't some of the alternatives cut off Exchange Blvd?

  14. #2689
    Just the facts's Avatar
    Just the facts is offline Kerry Decker
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Quote Originally Posted by cafeboeuf View Post
    Ditto.

    Didn't some of the alternatives cut off Exchange Blvd?
    My guess is that would be the concern.
    Third Place

  15. #2690
    jn1780 is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Friends for a Better Boulevard-img_20140719_121144_976.jpg

    The approach directly on the other side of the canal is taking shape.

  16. #2691
    Urban Pioneer is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Here is an article from today regarding the work that we have been doing.

    This line is particularly amusing to me. "It’s a success story because of our public involvement,” said Brenda Perry, spokesperson for ODOT."

    If FBB and the citizens of this city hadn't pressed for a public process, there would not have been one.

    A final effort to reverse course of downtown boulevard | okgazette.com


    You can join Friends for a Better Boulevard here- https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bett...evard/?fref=nf

  17. #2692
    CuatrodeMayo's Avatar
    CuatrodeMayo is offline Andrew Stewart
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Quote Originally Posted by Urban Pioneer View Post
    Here is an article from today regarding the work that we have been doing.

    This line is particularly amusing to me. "It’s a success story because of our public involvement,” said Brenda Perry, spokesperson for ODOT."

    If FBB and the citizens of this city hadn't pressed for a public process, there would not have been one.

    A final effort to reverse course of downtown boulevard | okgazette.com


    You can join Friends for a Better Boulevard here- https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bett...evard/?fref=nf
    This is simply nauseating.
    cafeboeuf and CaptDave like this.
    Please consider the environment before printing this forum post.

  18. #2693
    OKCisOK4me's Avatar
    OKCisOK4me is offline Braden Palm
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Taking all the credit
    My body was born in Norman, but my soul came from Stillwater.

  19. #2694
    Anonymous. is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Accepting comments once the final design is unveiled this year? What is the purpose at that point?

    I have a feeling that the overwhelming responses they have received, have been favoring Alternative D. I find it insulting to brag about record-breaking public involvement on this process when they have barely listened in the end.
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  20. #2695
    warreng88 is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    I think we underestimate the amount of people in the city who do not care about walkability and only care about getting in and out of DT as quickly as possible. Of course, I am not sure if many of those people would have participated in a survey or written an e-mail to their appropriate council people.

  21. #2696
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    So.... They chose C I'm guessing?
    Gone to the ballpark. Go Tribe!

  22. #2697
    Anonymous. is offline Participating Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Quote Originally Posted by warreng88 View Post
    I think we underestimate the amount of people in the city who do not care about walkability and only care about getting in and out of DT as quickly as possible. Of course, I am not sure if many of those people would have participated in a survey or written an e-mail to their appropriate council people.

    This is definitely true - but I know tons of people that have no idea of the Boulevard's plans to even exist. I have lost count how many people I have heard wonder what the "floating bridge to nowhere" behind bass pro is for.

    Unless ODOT specifically went to Edmond residents and asked for input, I don't see how people from this forum and FBB did not single handedly sway the comments enough.
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  23. #2698
    Urban Pioneer is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    SW Aviator on the Gwin Faulconer Show Sunday night.

    The Gwin Faulconer-Lippert Show 4 (Audio)

  24. #2699
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    Now everyone, just remain calm, ODOT just needs to get the details more detailed and then we'll know what the details are, with more detail.

    From Steve's chat

    Steve Lackmeyer 11:10 a.m. OK. I know this has been requested for a few weeks. I'll go ahead and post here on the chat. The following is an email conversation that took place on May 30, 2014:

    Steve: Eric Wenger has said that ODOT won’t pay for the grid option (Option D). Is this true?

    ODOT: We've answered your question about funding before and nothing's changed since our May 15 email. Many of these details and specifics will be sorted out once an alternate is selected.

    Our discussions with the City and project agreements have been clear from the beginning, that construction using federal funds on the project will be available for any roadway work that will take place within the old I-40 right-of-way. Any alternative selected will be eligible for federal funding. Any alternative selected will require ODOT and the City of OKC to discuss revisions to the project agreement based on additional features and what would still qualify for funding.

    STEVE: OK, I just talked to Eric, so let’s take another shot at this.
    Is it true ODOT will not fund the portion of Option D, as it is presented, that stretches from Walker and Western Avenues and is not in the old I-40 highway alignment?

    ODOT: While Option D is eligible for federal funds, the portion from Walker to Western is not included in the current agreement because it is outside of old I-40 right-of-way.

    We're concerned your singling out this one alternate when others include areas that are outside of current funding obligation per project agreement. As said before, ODOT cannot select an alternate until after the public comment process is complete after the public hearing. Many of these details and specifics will be sorted out once an alternate is selected. No matter which alternate is selected, ODOT is committed to work with the City of OKC for resolution of these issues.

    Steve: I am not singling this out. This is a reflection of what was said at Eric Wenger’s presentation. There were no other comments regarding portions of the other options that also are not going to be funded by ODOT.
    Please provide me with that information and I will use that as well.

    ODOT: Steve, let me clarify more. We have responded....any portions in any of the options that fall outside the footprint of the old Crosstown right of way will have to be evaluated for funding in a new agreement

    STEVE: OK.
    Let me ask my question differently.
    Can you please provide me with a list of improvements/road upgrades shown on Options A through C that are not considered to be within the old highway alignment?

    ODOT: There isn't very detailed information because plans are not detailed yet.

    Part of Alternate C not included in the original I-40 right of way includes the Classen to Western connection and the modification to Reno.

    Alternates A, B, C and D all have the Oklahoma Connection that is out of original I-40 right of way.

    Again, please realize that many of these details and specifics will be sorted out once an alternate is selected. No matter which alternate is selected, ODOT is committed to work with the City of OKC for resolution of these issues.
    - OKC Central Chat transcript, Aug. 22, 2014 | News OK

  25. #2700
    David is offline Platinum Member
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    Default Re: Friends for a Better Boulevard

    So, ODOT wants to build a highway, and they are going to use their control of the purse strings to force the grid option off the table. I wonder if that would fly should the city actually escalate this up to the federal level, assuming such a statement makes sense.

    The voice in the back of my mind that is wearing a tin foil hat is wondering how much more the appropriate contractors will be paid to build A, B, or C as opposed to D.

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