The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 14, 2014

Ezzell’s vision provides path from eastside to downtown

ENID, Okla. — Last November, Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell requested that engineers formulate plans for a trail alongside Broadway.

As a way to extend the trail system, Ezzell has pressed for sidewalk infrastructure along Broadway. His vision is helping provide a clearer path for east-side pedestrians and bikers to the downtown area.

Enid City Commissioners voted to redirect trail construction funds from the north side of Enid to the east during a special meeting on the budget Tuesday.

The switch in funds came after city staff presented plans to build a concrete trail around Crosslin Park and design a link to connect at Cleveland to the rest of the system.

The city already had plans to improve Broadway from downtown to 16th starting sometime this summer. Ezzell suggested sidewalks along the route should be rehabilitated during the construction process.

Renovating sidewalk infrastructure along Broadway will bring the trails much closer to the campus of Northern Oklahoma College. This will benefit residents walking on the east side of town heading west.

Although the sidewalks might not reach 16th, this is a positive move in the right direction. So far, $350,000 is earmarked for this project (including $160,000 in matching funds from Oklahoma Department of Tourism).

“We can stripe Broadway for shared-use car/bicycle lanes for very little money,” Ezzell said. “That, combined with consistent and usable sidewalks, will make a great trail extension.”

On the west side, a 10-foot-wide, 1.1-mile-long trail will be extended between Oakwood and Garland. A path all the way from Garland to 30th is not out of the question.

How about connecting north? One year after the commissioners made a downtown spur a priority in their $2 million overall trails allocation, the city hasn’t yet acquired any land or rights of way to bring the trail in a northward direction.

We’re eager to hear more about that future downtown trail link. And we’re intrigued about the idea of connecting north from Cleveland in the near future.

We appreciate the efforts of Ezzell and the commission for emphasizing Enid’s walkability. Trails improve health through physical activity.

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