A Vision for North Lincoln Blvd

We bought a home in Lincoln Terrace in July of 2012; we moved in in March of 2013. Living in this area has provided me with a great opportunity to explore my urban planning dreams and ideas. For today’s lunchtime blog post, I’d like to share a small glimpse of what I’m thinking about.

I would love to see light rail some day in Oklahoma City. I think N. Lincoln would be a perfect place to run a line from downtown to the northeast. I need to spend time drafting my ideas and comparing them to other people’s and to the Fixed Guideway Study that OKC has already done. Today’s post includes just a glimpse of what could be if light rail was built along this corridor.

N. Lincoln is currently a 6 (wide) lane expressway from NE 4th all the way to NE 50th Street. Traffic counts range from 26,000 ADT just north of 4th to 14,000 ADT just north of 13th to 20,000 ADT just south of NE 50th Street. FHWA guidance indicates that most streets less than 20,000 ADT are eligible for Road Diets, whereby a 4-lane or 6-lane road is reduced to 1 lane each direction with a center turn lane and bike lanes, or some variations. Therefore, except for a few select locations, N Lincoln meets guidance that says it should be 3 lanes total, not 3 lanes in each direction.

The image below is from the fantastic new site StreetMix.net. Street Mix helps you easily visualize a street section – you can use it to look at current vs. future, the what-if scenarios of planning. I love it.

N. Lincoln Blvd today (at approximately NE 16th Street):

N Lincoln Blvd - Current

Notice how wide the lane widths currently are – I walked them off yesterday, and they appear to be 15′ each. Street Mix is so kind as to say “This segment might be too wide”.

Now, let’s take a look at a “what could be” scenario.

N Lincoln Blvd - Future

Using the same right-of-way width, I’ve added separated light rail (with island boarding and alighting), kept two lanes of traffic each way, and also added a separated bike lane on each side. On-street parking isn’t noted because, at least in this area, all of the existing homes front the side streets. That would change elsewhere. This specific section can’t be done exactly like this south of 13th, because the median disappears, but you can get the feeling of what could be done. As part of my light rail analysis I hope to be able to do this type of Street Mix scenario for a variety of areas around OKC.

What can you dream up with Street Mix? Show me!

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7 Replies to “A Vision for North Lincoln Blvd”

  1. I think light rail is a great idea for this area and for downtown. Your conceptual drawings are very attractive. However, I have to confess to some sympathy with Larry Nichols in terms of the overhead electrical lines required. I recently spent several weeks in Germany and France and rode several of the light rail systems and agree that there is a considerable amount of unattractive wiring involved. Is there any way around some of that?

    1. Judy, yes, some companies are coming up with ways to use a 3rd-rail (subway) type system to provide the power. However, they are very new, expensive and unproven, at this point. Having spent quite a bit of time in Europe myself, and in Dallas, I personally do not see the objection. However, visual appearance is often a matter of personal taste, and what is (or isn’t) appealing to one person may not be the same for every person. If we do build streetcar and light rail lines, I personally am OK with overhead lines, and they can be kept quite minimal for new systems.

      1. I have a photo of a streetcar in Strasbourg, France, that had no overhead lines at all. The line appeared to be very modern. I wonder if it utilizes the 3rd-rail system that you describe. I could send a photo of that to you if an attachment was allowed.

  2. I’d have to say that, visually, there are a lot of attractive ways do do light rail in a suburban residential environment. Look at some of the purpose-build transit-oriented development in Portland (Orenco station as an example: http://flic.kr/p/6juMaV).

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