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Oklahoma City continues war on medians…

According to Steve "Get Off My Median" Lackmeyer, the narrow tree-lined median along the gentrified area of NW 23rd in Uptown could be sacrificed in the name of "public safety."

I guess the strip is up for reconstruction, and the people who care are debating whether or not to keep the median, or do away with it and give more room to losers who walk, ride bikes, use wheelchairs, or simply don't want to feel like they're one little stumble away from instant death while bar hopping.

Via The Oklahoman:

A tree-lined median along NW 23 in Uptown may be ripped up as part of a reconstruction aiming at making the busy corridor safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit passengers...

Business owners, nearby residents and other stakeholders have spent the past several weeks reviewing two options for reconstruction, one that keeps the median and one that doesn’t.

Yikes. You know you're getting old when city beautification projects that were completed in your early 20s are now old enough to be demoed and replaced. Life comes at you fast, kind of like a drunk barrelling down NW 23rd on Saturday night.

The upcoming project will include improved lighting, repaving and coordinated timing of traffic lights.

“It was last modified over 20 years ago,” Heusel said. “Since then, there have been a number of changes and additions to this part of the city.”

The street was one of the city’s earliest “streetscapes,” projects that extend street improvements to include changes ranging from lighting, sidewalks, benches to aesthetics.

I know the median comes with some issues, but I kind of like having it there for those dangerous treks across NW 23rd. It's like the center median in Frogger – a safe resting point as you dodge deadly obstacles like moving cars, and when 23rd is flooded, logs and alligators.

In addition to that, I'm a sucker for sterile late-90s streetscapes. That median and the old-timey lampposts that impede sidewalks really deliver in that department!

That being said, the median does apparently lead to some safety issues...

The median, added between Harvey and Lee Avenues, was built at a time when at least half of the storefronts along the corridor were empty and the Tower Theatre was abandoned. The corridor is now a lively mix of restaurants, shops, bars and entertainment with the Tower Theatre drawing musical acts throughout the year.

The shortcomings of the original streetscape have become increasingly a problem with the revival. Decades-old sidewalks were never replaced and streetlights are often located within the narrow passages, making them difficult to navigate for pedestrians and those with mobility challenges.

Halff Associates is designing reconstruction of NW 23 between Western and Santa Fe Avenues with a $3.5 million budget. Four people died and 183 injuries were reported in crashes between 2014 and 2019 along the corridor between Western and Santa Fe.

If you think those numbers are bad, imagine how high they'd be if there wasn't a little tree-lined median in the middle of 23rd to prevent drunken and high motorists from crashing head-on into each other!

The anti-median folks seem to have some pretty good arguments, and since they're led by a lot of vocal pouters, I'm sure they'll get their way. I guess that's fine, but man, it sure does suck to be a median in OKC right now. First, they aborted the ill-advised WTF median on N. Western, now they're taking aim on the area on 23rd. The weird medians at Classen Circle must be terrified.

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