The Oklahoma City Council approved a measure May 31 to name a proposed downtown street "Oklahoma City Boulevard" by an 8-1 vote. The street is set to replace a section of the Interstate 40 crosstown expressway.
The ordinance designates the roughly two-and-a-half-mile stretch of road, from near Byers Avenue on the east to near Villa Avenue on the west, be named after it is built in coming years where the I-40 bridges currently stand.
Mayor Mick Cornett said the name serves many purposes, including guiding tourists and travelers off the interstate and into downtown.
“Having a sign that says, ‘Oklahoma City Boulevard this way,’ clearly indicates – if not dictates – which street would be appropriate for people to exit the interstate of off,” he said. “We want people to go down this boulevard, we want people to relocate and take that exit and visit Oklahoma City.”
The ordinance did not pass without opposition. Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan said he thinks the name is too long, and suggested more thought and research into the process of naming the boulevard. Ryan cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I remain impressed but unconvinced,” he said. “The name to me is cumbersome, long; I have been to a lot of cities, I have never seen a street be referred to as its whole name.”
City Manager James Couch said if all goes as planned, deconstruction of the I-40 bridges downtown will begin in 2013, and construction of the boulevard will begin in 2014. An engineering team has been selected, and the design process is underway.
“We’re only going to get one time to engineer this boulevard correctly,” Cornett said. “It’s going to be very important that we do it as well as we can.”