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Traffic snarls to continue until summer.

Byline: Brian Brus

OKLAHOMA CITY Downtown traffic pressure will be relieved slightly this summer as many street projects are tied up, city Public Works Director Eric Wenger said. Several blocks have been detoured or reduced to single lanes due to a combination of Project , streetcar rail installment and private development, Wenger said. Although the MAPS 3-funded modern streetcar has gotten a lot of media attention lately, he said, private projects are taking up just as much street space. The latest such closure has been at Robinson and Park avenues due to the refurbishment of the First National Center. In January, pieces of the buildings faade fell to the street and sidewalks. Utility work is now being done at the intersection. Then theres the space around BOK Park Plaza, 499 W. Sheridan Ave., which recently started accepting Bank of Oklahoma employees. That project has been underway for about two years. On the north side of downtown, theres the Contemporary Arts Center, 1200 N. Broadway Ave. And the 21c Hotel at 900 W. Main St. has caused its share of traffic diversions as well. Plus there are numerous, small, incremental blocks around vacant buildings that need to be modernized, he said. Theres a lot of private development thats not public work at all. Its all part of the revitalization of downtown. The next adjustment drivers will face is the partial closure of Broadway and NW th Street as rail is laid for the streetcar. Kristine Torkelson, a spokeswoman for the ADG firm handling the project, said each section of the rail takes several weeks of construction, and that can be stretched depending on where utilities are installed and whether electric power lines are needed above the streetcar route. Intersections are a special case as well because some of the work can be covered temporarily by thick metal plates to allow traffic to pass. The Broadway and th Street intersection work will begin shortly and will disrupt access east to the Interstate. Torkelson said rail construction is still expected to be complete by the end of the year. The cars will then have to be tested before allowing riders. City Hall has been upgrading everything on the streets and between buildings downtown for several years as part of Project , a $ million public works project driven by the construction of the Devon Energy corporate tower. Some of that work on Gaylord Boulevard will be completed in about a month. Cold temperatures have slowed concrete work, Wenger said. The only other package of P tasks to complete are now underway at Main Street near Gaylord and Broadway. Another stretch of road will be affected on N. Robinson from Sheridan to Park Avenue. That work has been suspended because theres other private and streetcar work in the area, he said.

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Publication:Journal Record (Oklahoma City, OK)
Date:Feb 12, 2018
Words:472
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