The Woodward News

Local News

July 9, 2013

Chamber members hear details on new fire station



When Alan Case II, who is the chair of the Woodward Industrial Foundation, was asked to speak about why he would be voting in favor of the new sales tax increase, he said the fire station was an obvious need for public safety.

"I'm not going to bore you with talk about the fire station.  Everyone knows the need there.  No one in this room has a beef for extending funds for a fire station," Case said.

Instead he focused on the traffic issues in Woodward and how that points to a need for improvements along 34th Street.

Case said he has lived here most of his life and moved back to the community in the late 90s, purchasing a home along Yeager Dr. in 1999.

Back then he said you could "hear crickets along Downs Ave." because there wasn't much traffic.  However, he said traffic has steadily increased in the area, both from local drivers using Downs to avoid traffic along Oklahoma Ave. and from new developments along 34th Street that are drawing more people to that area, from the Early Childhood Center to the Conference Center to the new movie theaters.

Case described trying to turn onto Downs from his street on Yeager Dr. "like that video game frogger," in terms of the amount of traffic going through the area at times making it difficult sometimes to enter that traffic flow.

"I'm happy to have the traffic, I'm happy to have the growth," Case said.  "But this is a traffic problem that needs to be addressed."

Riffel agreed, sharing some statistics from a traffic study showing just how busy 34th Street has become in terms of traffic flow.  At 34th and Oklahoma, he said the study showed an average vehicle per day (AVPD) rate of 22,308, with a projection that that number will reach 32,570 AVPD by 2035.  Then by the ECC, he said the AVPD rate is currently 2,692 cars, and is projected to near 4,240 AVPD by 2035.

The city manager said this becomes a public safety issue when considering that more traffic can increase the chance for more traffic accidents.  He provided statistics from a 5-year crash analysis for 34th St. showing an average over 8 accidents per year.

With more vehicles on that road, Riffel said there needs to be more room for those vehicles to travel.  That is why the proposed widening project seeks to expand 34th St. into a "super 2-lane," which will add dedicated turning lanes, for left hand turns at the intersections with Oklahoma, Downs and Hanks Trail, he said.  There will also be added right hand turning lanes added off of Hanks Trail and Oklahoma Ave. onto 34th St. to help improve access to the street, he said.

In addition, Riffel said a holding lane will be added with a passing lane along southbound 34th St. by the Early Childhood Center to help ease some of the traffic congestion in that area that has been caused by parents picking up and dropping off students for school.  Also by the ECC there will be a dedicated left-hand turning lane for northbound travelers, to help hold the school traffic by allowing them to continue on in the normal northbound lane, he said.

Another element of the project will be a center turning lane for about half a mile south of Oklahoma Ave., Riffel said, to allow for easier turning into neighborhoods and businesses in that area.  The project also includes the proposed extension of the walking trail from where it currently ends at the south side of Experiment Lake all the way north to Oklahoma Avenue.

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