OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A long-anticipated bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists opened in one of Oklahoma City’s busiest intersections on Wednesday.
This project bridges a gap felt greatly by some active Oklahomans.
“We waited for years to be able to cross without worrying about getting run over,” said Charles Engles, a bicyclist. “All of us have been out here when cars run red lights. We had to lay our bikes down to keep from getting hit.”
Now that safe passage is finally open for people to bike, walk, and jog across the Northwest Expressway, near Wilshire, along the nearly 8-mile Hefner Overholser Trail.
The $5.3 million bridge project is many years in the making, funded by the 2007 Bond Program and the 2017 Better Streets, Safer City Bond Program.
“The voters first approved funding for this in ’07,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “It wasn’t enough. So we went back to the well in ’17.”
Though it wasn’t cheap, Holt says it was important.
“This has always been a tough connection,” Holt said. “You had to cross what is essentially a six-lane state highway at a conventional pedestrian walkway and that just wasn’t ideal for safety either the drivers or the bicyclists and walkers.”
The chevron design on the bridge is a nod to the Expressway’s automotive history and nearby Wiley Post and Clarence E. Paige airports.
“I think, historically, Oklahoma City would build things in a very utilitarian style and I’m thrilled that we that we made the attempt here to be a little more esthetically pleasing,” said Holt.
Bicyclists we talked to say they’re just happy to finally have a safer alternative along this popular route.
“We’re so happy that it’s open,” said Larry Neal, a bicyclist. “It’s amazing that they have finally, finally got it open.”
The Hefner-Overholser Trail runs from Britton Road at Lake Hefner Drive to Northwest 39th St. at Overholser Drive.