We’re getting a better look at what the Broken Arrow's New Orleans Square project will look like when it’s done.
City leaders said the intersection sees about 31,000 vehicles a day. The goal of the project is to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Officials are calling the New Orleans Square corridor construction a high-profile project.
“Anytime you do an intersection near a major commercial road like this, that makes it big. You go just a few hundred feet to the East, and we have the 9th grade center for Broken Arrow,” said Kenneth Schwab, Broken Arrow Assist. City Manager over Operations. "There’s a middle school to the North. Churches, and then the residence. It just has all the elements that create a lot of challenges and opportunities.”
Schwab said New Orleans Street and South Elm Place will be a 5 by 5 intersection with one northbound turn lane going east.
“It’s called a roadway diet. We’re actually taking away some of the existing lanes,” said Schwab.
He said the update will feel like a park similar to Utica Square in Tulsa.
“You can tell that it was designed and met the zoning criteria of the late 70s and the early 80s. All the businesses are way away from the intersection, and you’ve got this huge parking lot. It looks like a mall type of setting. Not easy to walk. Not friendly to walk. So, we’re actually putting in public right of way, more beautification and then the parking lots, actually turning it more into a more pedestrian friendly,” said Schwab.
The contractor presented new renderings, reflecting the blue, white, and gray color scheme the Broken Arrow City Council approved a week ago.
“A huge economic impact. Bring more businesses. Attract more businesses to the area. And of course, more sales tax and just grow the area. As people move into the city this will be able to provide the retail and restaurants and everything like that for them,” said Nick Zografos, Owner of Diversified Civil Contractors.
“I’m just concerned about the retail that’s here now because usually with construction you have the loss of business, but I’m excited to see them trying to do something to make this area more desirable for shopping and activities,” said Dean Scocos, Broken Arrow.
Schwab said traffic moves pretty well in the area as long as drivers obey the ‘no left-hand turn’ rule. He said you will get ticketed and create traffic jams if you try to turn left at the intersection.
Schwab hopes to have the roadway complete by Christmas and the entire project done by April.
More than 20 residents and business owners showed up to the meeting and also got to ask questions about the New Orleans Square Overlay District.
Schwab said he’s seen this type of plan prove successful in the Rose district and wants to do it on a broader scale here.
“The overlay district is trying to bring more multi-use. Old zoning codes would require heavy commercial, strict type of zoning. With multi-use, you can get residential and commercial retail in the same location,” said Schwab.