BLOG: Streetcar organizers want to learn from Project 180 

Mindful of complaints that Project 180 and other downtown construction projects have stirred over the past few years, members of the streetcar subcommittee say they want to learn from those mistakes.

“I think [Project 180] really emphasizes to us how vital it is that we do outreach to businesses and merchants,” said Mark Gibbs, a member of the Oklahoma City streetcar subcommittee. “It is important that we use smart techniques as I have seen in other cities. Portland only did a few blocks [of streetcar construction] at a time.”

Oklahoma City has pumped over $175 million into transforming numerous downtown streets into more bike- and pedestrian-friendly routes. However, construction often caused headaches for many merchants, workers and residents who felt there was a lack of adequate communication about traffic, said Jane Jenkins, director of Downtown OKC, Inc.

“Will they be better efforts than Project 180?” asked Jenkins about the coming construction with the streetcar line. City staff said they felt confident the communication and implementation of streetcar construction would be a smoother process.

Downtown streetcar construction is expected to begin in 2016, consultants said at Wednesday’s streetcar subcommittee meeting.

Committee member Stephen Mason said he has seen other cities work well with the community when constructing a streetcar line.

“Salt Lake City actually hired a person to deal with retailers to hear about their problems,” Mason said.

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