Okmulgee Works To Make City More Pedestrian Friendly

Monday, August 19th 2019, 7:05 am
By: Joseph Holloway

Drivers in Okmulgee can soon expect more construction and road work downtown. The city says it's starting a new project aimed at making the area more pedestrian-friendly.

Okmulgee leaders say this walkability project has been nearly three years in the making and they expect it to significantly change the look of Downtown Okmulgee.

They're working with ODOT to install three mini-roundabouts in the downtown area, and they say the goal is to slow down traffic because a lot of people tend to speed through the area.

Sixth Street, which is also State Highway 56, will be the first state highway with a mini-roundabout.

"Right now, for cross traffic or pedestrians, it's really, really hard to cross," said City Manager Roger Ballenger. "The traffic doesn't slow down; there's no yielding or anything."

Drivers and pedestrians will also notice new crosswalks and curb extensions.

Heather Sumner with Okmulgee Main Street said it may seem like relatively small changes, but it will make a big difference for people who live downtown.

"We're trying to create an atmosphere where people can come down, shop, walk, eat, play," she said.

City Manager Roger Ballenger says more people are living downtown, so they want the area to be more pedestrian-friendly.

"We've got a good population of millennials, young professionals, lawyers, medical people who really like Downtown Okmulgee and we're trying to cater to their needs as much as possible" said Ballenger. 

The first part of the project is a water line replacement, and city leaders said that will happen in October.

Downtown leaders said they were concerned about how construction would impact businesses, but Funky Blessings owner Rhonda McCurdy said she feels it's best for the city in the long run.

"I think it'll be absolutely fabulous," she said. "I think it's going to draw a lot of people in. I think it's going to be a neat project, and unique."

The city tells me the project should be finished sometime next spring.