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‘Complete Streets’ brings increased walkability, bikeability to Owasso roadways
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‘Complete Streets’ brings increased walkability, bikeability to Owasso roadways

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The City of Owasso is continuing to improve its roadways to accommodate the ongoing growth of the community.

City officials are striving to transform high-traffic areas into “Complete Streets” that alleviate congestion and enhance mobility for local commuters.

They met at the drawing board about a decade ago to fulfill the City’s vision of integrating the novel concept, designed to provide safe access for all modes of transportation, including walking, bicycling, driving and public transit.

Their efforts over the years have culminated in the recent widening and overhaul of both 76th Street North and 116th Street North between U.S. 169 and 129th East Avenue — two projects, for example, that city planner Karl Fritschen has helped steer to completion.

“The new streets now offer an attractive landscape median, which can also serve as a pedestrian refuge, a wider sidewalk on one side of the road to allow for less skilled cyclists and an on-street bike lane for higher-skilled cyclists who are comfortable riding with traffic,” Fritschen said.

The development of Owasso’s newly renovated streets came as a result of citizens’ survey requests to see upgraded pedestrian and bicycle options, outlined in the City’s 2011 Quality of Life Initiative.

In 2015, Owasso City Council approved a measure to officially adopt Complete Streets as a standard for future road projects, followed by INCOG’s Go Plan, which embraced the concept as a component of the City’s Long Range Land Use Plan.

“What I think this demonstrates,” Fritschen said, “is that we are making efforts to listen to the community and what they are telling us, acting on the visions and goals that have been articulated in the Quality of Life Initiative and … carrying those actions out to reality when possible with new infrastructure.”

In the last six years, Owasso’s Complete Streets initiative has allowed construction crews to convert 76th and 116th streets from narrow, two-lane roadways to wider, four-lane “boulevard-style” thoroughfares for drivers and pedestrians alike to traverse with more ease.

Additionally, the projects feature curb extensions and modified travel lanes for vehicles; accessible signals and crossing opportunities for pedestrians; and amenities like trees, solar-powered light fixtures and refined stonework for a visual appeal.

“It provides a safer corridor; it controls the turning movements, particularly left turning movements, by channeling them into certain intersections,” Fritschen said. “The aesthetic element, there’s no doubt that’s going to enhance and improve property values.”

The last available traffic statistics (published in 2015, when Complete Streets was adopted by Owasso’s City Council) show that 76th Street saw a daily average of 10,160 vehicles and 116th saw a daily average of 11,110. Fritschen said he’s confident those numbers, along with safety and flow, have since increased, thanks in large part to the newly implemented concept.

He and his team are now setting their sights on carrying the Complete Streets model into the continued expansion of 116th to Garnett Road, and eventually to Mingo Road. Another project in their purview is the completion of Garnett to 106th, which will round out the nearly two-mile stretch of construction to 116th.

When asked what it means to see Complete Streets come to fruition in his hometown, Fritschen replied, “I think it’s something unique to Owasso that makes us a unique and positive destination place.”

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