Wednesday, May 5, 2010

OKC, street-by-street

Which corridors in OKC do you think are most in-need of streetscape improvement? Truth be told, there are actually a lot of streets that the city has done an awesome job with--a lot more than we realize. These are the obvious ones like Walker, NW 16th, NW 23rd in Uptown, parts of Lincoln and Classen, and so on--also don't forget Grand Boulevard, S 25th/Commerce Street, Shartel/18th which curves through Mesta Park, parts of Robinson, and more.

Thought I would do a map to best convey the streets that I think are in need of an overhaul. It will be interesting to see if they get an overhaul.. a lot of times it seems like these streets get targeted for an overhaul and in the end they just repave it and call it done. They rarely do anything to fix the neglected streetscape aesthetics, but sometimes good projects get through, such as the streets I listed above.

Currently we know that virtually every downtown street is going to get an overhaul in the next two years as a part of Project 180. We also know that 23rd from MacArthur all the way to Penn or so is being repaved. Will they include aesthetic upgrades as well? It would be nice, but who knows. We also know Western Avenue is slated for a streetscape, but how long will the new streetscape be? Honestly, Western Avenue needs to be streetscaped (in my opinion) all the way from NW 63rd down to SW 59th, especially on the southside where it carries more traffic than any other nearby corridor--somewhat making S. Western the southside's main artery (a very blighted artery, too).

In order to read the map, which is self-explanatory.. just consider green to be the streets that the city deserves kudos for, red to be the streets that the city deserves blame for, yellow to be the streets that are alright but could/should be better. Black is for the lost causes, which is any southside street that crosses Shields and E.K. Gaylord in downtown.

E.K. Gaylord is an urban renewal error that needs to be undone and turned into a greenway or something non-concrete. Maybe the parcels with E/W street frontage can be developed and we can get some transit-oriented development out of that possibly. In the original city grid there was not a street there, and the right-of-way for it was carved out of properties with frontage along E/W streets and property lines adjacent to the tracks, so it shouldn't be hard to find a way to revert back to the old grid.

The black/yellow circle is just for the downtown construction zone, or else I would have had to label nearly every street in their red (even though we know those will be turning to green soon). Out of the existing streetscapes, Bricktown streetcapes, Walker, and Broadway all turned out pretty good. Robinson is a key corridor that's particularly in need of a streetscape..

Hopefully we can recognize the need to focus on corridors that make up the greater sum of OKC, because it's through that process that you create well-defined space and a more positive urban environment in Oklahoma City. It can only be achieved one street at a time..

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