Monday’s City Council meeting will focus on the past, present and future of transportation in Stillwater and it’s meant to be a two-way conversation. City residents are invited to participate in a Transportation Town Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber at 723 S. Lewis Street.
Transportation Engineer Monty Karns and Deputy City Manager Melissa Reames will present information on the history of transportation in Stillwater, transportation financing, past priorities and an analysis of potential projects.
Members of the public will be able to provide input before city staff gives a summary and asks the council for direction.
Mayor Will Joyce said he knows some people haven’t felt like their input was really considered in the distant and recent past, and that is probably true. But he and the other city councilors are committed to changing that.
He said his goal for this meeting is to get quality feedback from the public about where and how they would like to see the city’s transportation funding spent. The council is committed to listening and using the information it gathers.
It really comes down to communication, he said. The public doesn’t always understand why the city makes some of its decisions about which roads to repair and the City Council may not understand what people really value when it comes to roads.
He used an example of choosing not to spend $50,000 to do an overlay that temporarily smooths a road surface but doesn’t hold up very long because the road needs to be rebuilt.
In the past, city leaders have assumed people wouldn’t want them to waste that $50,000, Joyce said.
“But that may not be correct,” he said. “And if that’s the case, it’s their money.”
Joyce said city leaders and staff have a different perspective on infrastructure expansion than some past administrations held. Those councils were seeing rapid growth in the southwest part of town.
The current council’s focus is on rebuilding the core of the city rather than looking at expansion as a sign of success. You need a strong core to support expansion, he said.
Joyce said he also thinks there has been a shift in society. The generations to follow will have different priorities when it comes to transportation and will expect different modes, like bicycles and foot traffic, to be considered in transportation planning.
According to a city release, staff will present information on upcoming transportation projects. The concept of multimodal transportation and a bike corridor project along Husband Street are two of the planned topics.
Upcoming Oklahoma Department of Transportation highway projects that affect Stillwater will also be part of the discussion.
State Highway 51 runs east and west through Stillwater as Sixth Avenue and US 177 runs north and south through much of Stillwater as Perkins Road. ODOT is responsible for any projects on those two thoroughfares.
Projects on both stretches of road are part of ODOT’s 2019-2026 8-year plan for construction work.
ODOT was scheduled to begin dealing with right of way and utility line issues in 2019 to prepare for a US 177 project that extends north six miles from the Cimarron Turnpike spur. Construction on the project addresses grading, drainage and surfacing issues and is scheduled for 2023 is at an estimated cost of $2.8 million.
In 2021, ODOT plans to widen and resurface US 177 extending north from State Highway 51 to Lakeview Road. The plan includes widening the roadway to five lanes from McElroy to Lakeview.
In 2025, ODOT plans a major project on State Highway 51 from Western Road to the US 177 junction that will address grading, drainage and surfacing issues at an estimated cost of $6 million.
Possible funding sources, like a dedicated sales tax or borrowing money through general obligation bonds, for city projects will also be part of the discussion.
People who can’t attend the meeting in person can watch online at stillwater.org or on Suddenlink channel 14 and AT&T U-Verse channel 99.