By Donna Deaton and Irene Runnels
Two major construction projects are underway that will greatly impact the traffic patterns of West Lindsey Street in Norman. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is re-configuring both the Highway 9 and Lindsey Street exits in the largest single contract in the state’s history. Simultaneously, the City of Norman is completing the Lindsey Street Bond Project, widening the street from 24th Street to Berry and improving drainage, access, and streetscape.
Phase 1 = yellow
Phase 2 = light green
Phase 3 = light blue
Phase 4 = purple
Phase 5 = red
Phase 6 = dark blue
Phase 7 = orange
Phase 8 = dark green
According to the project overview from lindseystreetnorman.com, “…coinciding with the timeline of the ODOT’s work on the Lindsey interchange, the City of Norman will be implementing the Lindsey Street Bond Project, voted on by our citizens in 2012. West Lindsey Street extends from Interstate 35 to the campus of the University of Oklahoma.
Currently, the portion of the roadway between 24th Avenue and Berry Road is a 3-lane roadway and is the most congested corridor in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. This section of Lindsey Street has a traffic accident rate three times greater than the national average. Additionally, this area is ranked as the top storm water problem in Norman, referred to locally as Lake McGee.”
A May 13, 2017 newsok.com article reported that the project was 75% complete but “could be in jeopardy” due to state budget woes. Senator Jim Inhofe said ‘the project is one of 80 state highway projects under review for potential shutdown due to state funding issues’ but believes that President Trump’s commitment to infrastructure improvements will help secure the additional funds needed to complete the $71 million project. ‘I feel we will be back in the infrastructure business. I think we can look for good things to come. We will be holding his feet to the fire.'”
In the meantime, as construction continues, businesses on Lindsey Street are struggling to stay open. Some businesses have closed temporarily or even permanently due to the congestion and inaccessibility of the construction area.
According to an OU Daily article, “To combat the negative effects of the construction, merchants and the Norman Chamber of Commerce have started monthly meetings at Sooner Legends Restaurant to discuss ways to increase shopping traffic on Lindsey Street.
John Woods, president and CEO of the Norman Chamber of Commerce said the ‘…construction will have definite benefits once it is completed, but it will take the residents of Norman to keep businesses around the area during this time. What we don’t want to have happen is business storefronts that are empty and abandoned because we couldn’t support and didn’t support those businesses during this process.'”