2021 April POINT!

Better Streets, Safer City program makes progress

I n addition to resurfaced trails, new bike lanes and sidewalks, drivers are also experiencing smoother trips on Oklahoma City streets these days, thanks to voter approval of a Chamber-led campaign in 2017 to make city roads better and safer. According to City of Oklahoma City’s 2020 annual report on the Better Streets, Safer City program, more than half, or about $132 million, of the $261 million in sales taxes collected for the program between Jan. 1, 2018, and March 31, 2020, has already been allocated to various construction and improvement projects thus far. The temporary 1-cent sales tax portion of the program officially ended March 31, 2020, and was replaced April 1, 2020, with the MAPS 4 penny sales tax approved by voters on Dec. 10, 2019. Additional funding through 2027 is also being provided by bond sales tied to property tax collections. The largest portion of the Better Streets, Safer City program’s total funding—about $168 million—is allocated to street resurfacing, while the rest has been divvied up among street enhancements, sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, and trails. “We appreciate the city’s timely delivery of these resurfacing projects and look forward to more progress as some of the other elements emerge from the design phase. The projects in the 2015 Better Streets, Safer City program will improve so many areas that touch our lives on a daily basis,” Chamber President and CEO Roy Williams said.

In a recent presentation to the Oklahoma City Council, Public Works Director Eric Wenger said a lot of progress was made in 2020, including a tremendous amount of work that has already been completed. “We are making allocations regularly, and work is being completed. The majority of the [sales-tax funded] street work will be finishing up this year, and we are very much into the design [phase] of the streetscapes and the bike lanes,” Wenger said. Street Resurfacing Since construction first began on various resurfacing projects across the city, 362 lane miles encompassing 106 projects were completed by the end of 2020. The mileage includes both residential streets and arterial streets such as major thoroughfares handling most traffic but does not include interstate or state highways within city limits. Sixty percent of the $168 million, or $101 million, goes to arterial resurfacing, while 40%, or $67 million, goes to residential resurfacing. Projects may include such things as pavement repair, new asphalt, crack repairs, new wheelchair ramps, signal upgrades at intersections, as well as various other improvements. Following three years of the program, city officials calculate more than 361,000 tons of asphalt have been used to resurface streets. Other accomplishments noted in the year-end report include: • More than 193,000 linear feet of curb and gutter replacement.



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