Nov. 3 closure of S. Western Ave in OKC could affect voting

Got this email from my friend Tom Elmore, who is a hugely knowledgeable activist on rail issues, especially on the I-40 redirect that threatens the Union Station rail yard.


The big signs down at the railway crossings on S. Western Avenue just west of OKC Union Station say that this key, arterial street will be closed November 3.

That would leave only Walker Avenue as the single, completely unimpeded, truly “though” street from north to south Oklahoma City. All others have been closed or necked down by ODOT to facilitate their “New Crosstown project.”

…and November 3 is “Monday” — one day prior to the November 4 General Election.

A call to ODOT project manager John Bowman revealed, yet again, the degree to which the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will always shunt responsibility for the troubles it regularly and unnecessarily creates for the traveling public all across the state to “others.”

Asked if he didn’t understand the problem with closing this arterial street the day before the General Election, a nationwide vote in which public officials are predicting record turnout, Mr. Bowman said the timing is not ODOT’s . The schedule for the street closing, he said, is the doing of the contractor.

“Do you know if there are even any polling places around there?” he asked me. I reminded him that he’s the fellow closing the street — and the he’s the “high-powered planner.” As such, I enquired, isn’t it sort of “his job” to anticipate these things?

“Imagine an elderly couple venturing out to vote,” I said. “It’s hard enough for them to get out on the streets at all — but suddenly they find they can’t get even across this arterial corridor and that it’s hard to find another one fully open anywhere near. Do they keep struggling to find a path through the mess you people have made down there — or do they just admit defeat and go back home, having been frustrated in their effort to exercise a fundamental right of citizenship by their own thoughtless, completely-out-of-control, so-called-public-servants at the sovereign Oklahoma Department of Transportation?”

Mr. Bowman quietly told me that, as I already knew, he and I would just have to agree to disagree.