Two state senators are working together to ensure a Department of Transportation plan to reconstruct the I-240 and I-35 interchanges in two years doesn’t result in eliminating access to a road taken by nearly half of Crossroads Mall’s customers. Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-OKC, and Sen. Jim Reynolds, R-OKC, said the proposal could take a terrible toll on businesses and their employees.
“Last week ODOT held a public hearing, which Sen. Reynolds and I attended. Their plan for rebuilding those interchanges near Crossroads Mall would eliminate access to and from the mall by Pole Road. This would be more than just an inconvenience to metro citizens who shop at Crossroads—it could be devastating to the businesses, hotels, movie theatres and restaurants in and near the mall,” Leftwich said.
Those attending the public hearing were told that the plan would eliminate access to Pole Road because of a federal rule mandating a minimum distance between entrance and exit ramps. An alternate plan was presented that would simply move the exit to Pole Road to the east in order to meet that requirement.
If the ODOT plan is adopted, customers on I-240 would be forced to take the Eastern Avenue exit, which would take them approximately one mile out of their way. The lawmakers worry the inconvenience could deter some patrons from going to Crossroads Mall.
“This is a mall that employees well over 1,300 people during the year and 1,800 at Christmas. They produced $10 million in sales tax revenue last year and $826,000 in property taxes,” Reynolds said. “Making it harder for people to access the mall will not only hurt businesses and their employees but it could adversely affect state revenues. It’s going to mean less money for the services that are vitally important to our citizens, such as funding for our public schools.”
Completed in 1974, Crossroads Mall was the largest major indoor mall of its type in Oklahoma City. The lawmakers said more than 4.2 million shoppers visited Crossroads Mall last year and that nearly half of them used the Pole Road exit to get there.
“The stores have already had to endure the I-35 widening project that took nearly two decades to complete,” Reynolds said. “After all that closing Pole Road might be more than some of those businesses can take.”
Leftwich and Reynolds called on metro residents to write to ODOT and voice their objections to the plan which would not only close the Pole Road exit ramp from the interstate, but would also eliminate the 1-240 entrance ramp on the south side of the mall.
Written comments should be sent to Mr. Joe Khatib, Environmental Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, 200 Northeast 21st Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73139. Written comments must be received no later than June 23, 2005.
“We want people in South Oklahoma City and throughout the metro to join us in our fight to save Pole Road. This isn’t just about inconveniencing millions of customers. This could have a devastating financial impact. At a time when we’re trying to boost our economy, closing access to Pole Road would be the
wrong thing to do,” Leftwich said.