February 2010 Editorial Winner

It's decision time

Mike McCormick, Shawnee News-Star
Feb 28, 2010

THE ISSUE: A Bryan Street interchange at I-40
OUR OPINION: City commissioners should approve the resolution Monday Night

It’s now or never for an interchange on I-40 at Bryan Street. That is the decision awaiting Shawnee city commissioners Monday night when they consider a resolution reaffirming support for the feasibility study authorized nearly three years ago.
Understandably, some may think this is a difficult decision after commissioners held a hearing at Grove School Tuesday night to gather input. To us, though, it’s fairly simple.
It’s either a vote for progress and continued growth, opening up another corridor for economic development and easier access to Shawnee or it’s turning away that opportunity. It boils down to what is best for the entire community, not just a certain sector in Shawnee and the nearby area.
We concur with Chris Clark’s statement that “this is a no-brainer.” Clark, president of Arvest Bank, is a past chairman of the Greater Shawnee Chamber of Commerce.
City leaders who have helped make this community grow throughout the past 40 years, especially those back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, were visionary. They anticipated Shawnee would move northward.
Where would our community be today without the interchanges on I-40 at U.S. 177, Kickapoo Street and Harrison Street? Community leaders knew that if they didn’t seek an interchange at I-40 and Kickapoo and build that overpass, there simply would be no mall. And where would Shawnee be today without the businesses which have sprouted up all along Kickapoo, Harrison, along with all of those in the I-40 corridor?
State Transportation Secretary and Director Gary Ridley told us recently that in all of the years he has worked with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, he has never known a community to request a feasibility study seeking a possible interchange, then turn it down.
Ridley said the State Transportation Commission has secured $5.9 million for use on the project. It’s part of ODOT’s eight-year plan, which was published back in August-September of 2009.
Ridley has said it’s difficult to put a price tag on the project until a specific set of plans is developed, but he would estimate it at around $8 million. He’s indicated the federal government could kick in some money if it’s a special project, and that tribal governments have helped on similar projects, as well.
The city’s cost in this project will be minimal.
At the beginning of Tuesday night’s public hearing, Vice Mayor Pam Stephens made it clear the commission would consider the resolution at Monday evening’s commission meeting in city hall which begins at 6:30. We commend her and the commission for addressing this issue in a timely manner following the hearing, rather than allowing it to linger.
One of the more defining statements during Tuesday night’s hearing came from Tommy Taron, who urged commissioners to do as his late father and former mayor, Pierre Taron, told him he did when serving the public.
“You can never think of yourself,” Taron said, quoting his father. “You have to think of the whole community and vote for the whole community.”
He had explained his father totally had supported the site for Shawnee’s new Middle School in the mid 90’s even though it would take more than 300 cars away from downtown Shawnee twice a day, potentially hurting his (Tommy’s) cleaning business.
We urge commissioners to do what is right and support the resolution reaffirming what the city requested ODOT to begin nearly three years ago. It’s time to make a decision.

2 comments (Add your own)

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Sun, August 26, 2012 @ 10:15 PM

2. Desmon wrote:
That is exactly why the Search and Rescue bgdeut was trimmed of several items, so that the contract would not impose any additional financial burden on the county, as was stated during the commissioners meeting while discussing the helicopter contract. Also, take note that the Search andRescue bgdeut is one of the smallest in the county.Please reread my last line as well, as this is my opinion of what happened and why, and I do agree that we as a county needs to watch what we spend. But I still feel that this is a good thing to help keep our volunteers safe, and to help the economy that we used to be very reliant on before the gas boom. Someday, after the rush to drill is over, we will need the money that comes if from all the hikers and climbers that come to visit. If the volunteers in Search and Rescue don't feel that the county is interested in their safety and well-being, then why would they ever want to go into the mountains to rescue some poor guy that managed to slip on a pebble and break his leg?One of the attractions to people hiking and backpacking here, is the fact that there is an excellent team willing to help, should the need ever arise.

Wed, September 19, 2012 @ 3:54 AM

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