Much of the Muskogee business community is furious with Gov. Fallin, today. She vetoed the bill which Rep. George Faught and others from the area had succeeded in getting through the legislature and onto her desk. The bill would have kept the state from redesigning Hwy 69 around the west side of Muskogee. The new plan was designed to deal with the massive and decades-long traffic congestion along Hwy 69 as it passes through Muskogee's city streets.
The West Overpass will start a few miles southwest of Muskogee and take the highway traffic straight north through relatively undeveloped fields and forests. It will rejoin the existing route at the Arkansas River and just before the Turnpike junction.
It will likely lead to new growth as the city completes an interstate-class ring completely around the area. West Fern Mountain should become an upscale new residential area (if there is an exit there).
The existing commercial district of 32nd street is understandably upset. The govt. is making winners & losers. Some of this is unavoidable when you try to make Hwy 69 a more viable national option for transportation, and the streets safer for the local community.
If Gary Richardson's campaign issue is also successful and the state Turnpikes become open roads, the whole Muskogee metro area could have a massive boom of growth from these changes.
But the existing commercial businesses do have a real economic matter which cannot be ignored. Progress means change and change means pain for some.
Some are saying that the state should build an interstate-class highway on the existing footprint. There are 3 ways to do that.
1.The Tulsa model of Hwy 51.
shut off 90% of the cross streets and fence the highway. There will still be a bunch of miles of bulldozed blocks, because the right-of-way will be 3 times as wide.
2. The Louisville Model.
Build above the surface, with a perpetual overpass bridge. It's quite costly and most of us would shudder at the tax burden.
Louisville, KY (I-65) & Wichita, KS did this.
3. The Minneapolis Model.
Dig under the surface and have the express traffic use the tunnel.
it's how Minneapolis completed I-94 through the heart of the big city. It took nearly 20 years to complete and cost a massive amount.