Oklahoma City's southwest side poised for growth, but problems loom
Rapid residential growth on the city's southwest side could present challenges for providing infrastructure and services, city officials said at a forum Monday on Oklahoma City growth presented by The Oklahoman and the Urban Land Institute.
Southwest Oklahoma City is lightly served in terms of fire and other services, city officials said at the forum, and expansion of the Kilpatrick Turnpike could contribute to further residential growth in the area, said Aubrey Hammontree, planning director for Oklahoma City.
The state Transportation Commission this month approved a $190 million, seven-mile project that will begin where the Kilpatrick Turnpike currently ends at Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma County and extend south to link up with State Highway 152/Airport Road.
"There is a continued desire for people to have a rural lifestyle but be within that 10-minute drive from downtown," Hammontree said. "South Oklahoma City is one of those high-desirable areas and as I think because of the turnpike, that's where we are probably the next wave of growth happening."
As the city continues to expand, it puts new strains on city infrastructure and services, said Eric Wenger, public works director for Oklahoma City. The city spent $500 million alone on paving in its last bond issue, he said.
“We do see that as there are some new roads constructed there is going to be continued growth,” Wenger said. “We are going to have to be very capable planners to address that.”
Oklahoma City is projected to reach more than 810,000 residents by 2040. Oklahoma City is one the nation's largest cities by area, spread over 620 square miles and four counties.
Part of the problem is that Oklahoma City doesn't have the kind of natural barriers to prohibit growth that other cities have, such as a river or mountain range, Hammontree said.
“Oklahoma City is flat, affordable, it's in the middle of the country, it has interstate highway connections, which is what has made Oklahoma City so successful” Hammontree said. “We are now trying to guide development in a way that is efficient, that protects quality of life and the way we provide services.”
More than 75 people attended the forum at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. The forum also was broadcast on NewsOK.com.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›
Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›