Comes now the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, announcing the most giant ever super-stupendous financial methamphetamine high for road construction. Not one word about a penny or two for mass transit or rail. There does seem to be some money for sidewalks in cities along state highways, so maybe Northwest Expressway will actually get a sidewalk and thus people in wheelchairs will no longer be required to travel in one of the lanes of that six lane highway-street. Yes, it happens, right here in Oklahoma City. I travel NW Expwy twice a day, five or six days a week, on my way to or from work.
ODOT says that the sidewalk work is to satisfy an “unfunded federal mandate”. I guess “serving the people who pay the bills” isn’t high on their priority list. They only do things like sidewalks when the feds force them to do it, which of course is a true statement that is made obvious from a quick look at NW Expressway in Oklahoma City, one of the worst urban streets anywhere.
OKC municipal government says — “it’s not our responsibility, it’s a state highway”. ODOT is reputed to have said, “We don’t want people walking along NW Expwy”. But “not walking along NW Expwy” is not an option, since people need to get to work. And there is no city bus service along NW Expwy except for about 4 blocks between MacArthur and the intersection where Wilshire crosses the NW Expwy. Thousands of retail jobs along that corridor, and no mass transit and not one single inch of sidewalk. NO pedestrian crosswalks at the intersections either. 12 miles of street/highway through a densely populated urban area, and NO pedestrian crosswalks. I see people walking along that street-highway every day, at all hours, including night.
This money could have been a serious down-payment on a statewide system of passenger and local freight rail, as well as city-based municipal mass transit. But that’s a vision that conflicts with the loyalties of our politicians to the people who give them money. Given Oklahoma’s history, anyone who thinks that there isn’t a major amount of corruption involved in the awarding of these contracts, isn’t paying attention.
Once again, Oklahoma votes to shoot itself in the foot and call it “progress”.