• Abigail Hall

Two-year streets and sewer project complete

Originally published at Muskogee Phoenix June 27, 2018

Two local streets are smooth, wider and capable of withstanding industrial traffic for years to come, said Clayton Cristy, Engineering Project manager.

Cristy said while 43rd and 45th streets were given more width and shoulder space, 43rd Street was reconstructed from scratch.

“It just feels like a huge accomplishment,” Cristy said. “You would not have driven it at 35 mph in a car, and now it’s a very nice road that should last the city a long time.”

After two years of effort and development, the Muskogee City-County Port Authority held a dedication ceremony for 43rd and 45th streets and sewers project on Tuesday.

Prior to the project, the two streets that run parallel to the Muskogee Turnpike were deteriorating, pot-hole ridden and difficult to drive on, said Marie Synar, Muskogee City-County Port Authority director of industrial development.

Synar said the total cost of the project was $3.2 million. A grant received from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) was for $1.5 million. The City of Muskogee Foundation also provided a grant of $1.65 million.

Synar opened the ceremony by explaining the origins of the project and sharing gratitude with the partners who made the project possible. Synar introduced representatives from project partners who made the achievement possible, such as Cristy of Olsson and Associates; Kevin Wilson, Eastern Oklahoma Development District economic development director; Cornell Wesley, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration representative; Leroy Walker, vice-chairman of the City of Muskogee Foundation; and Mayor Bob Coburn.

Synar said the project would not have been possible without the represented partners, the Nonprofit Resource Center and local businesses in the affected area. Synar said the local businesses on 43rd and 45th streets have retained investments of $2.5 billion, new investments of $150 million, created 200 jobs and retained 1,500 jobs.

She said the project began two years ago when she spoke with a local businessman, Dave Ross, vice president of Ash Grove Cement, about the deteriorating roads his and other businesses were located on. Synar discovered other businesses in the area had the same difficulties as Ross. The Port decided to pursue the project because of their focus of helping to maintain local industrial businesses they chose to pursue the project, she said.

“We can spend all day recruiting new businesses, but if we’re not working to take care of our existing businesses and making sure those who are already here and invested in our community don’t leave, it would be a zero sum game,” Synar said.

She said the Port pursued engineering studies and gained cost estimates for the project and then pursued grant applications with the help of Muskogee Nonprofit Resource Center.

Walker said the Foundation was happy to be part of funding the project and many others over the last 10 years.

“The City of Muskogee Foundation is looking forward to continuing economic development of the city,” Walker said.

Synar said the Port is proud the project is complete.

“This project truly was a team effort,” she said. “It demonstrates how local businesses take care of Muskogee.”

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