Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the primary goal of the proposed turnpike is economic development.
The project has been on the books since the 50's. The right of way was purchased long ago, so not many residents would be displaced
So theoretically, the new road would pay for itself. The city would put a toll bridge across the river and recoup its expenses that way.
By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A road project that's been a pipe dream for decades is closer to becoming reality. But whether or not it will benefit the community depends on who you ask.
When Mary Colebrook decided to open her nursery on 57th West Avenue, the promise of a new highway nearby was part of the allure. That was 35 years ago. In that time, she's come to appreciate the tranquility of the area.
"It's a really peaceful place out here," said Mary Colebrook, Colebrook Nursery.
That peace may be disrupted. Governor Brad Henry signed a bill this week that gives the go ahead for a feasibility study that will examine a turnpike that would complete the Gilcrease Expressway. The road would stretch from I-44 all the way to the Tisdale Parkway.
"A lot of good things will happen simply by completing that road," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
The primary goal, says Mayor Bartlett, is economic development. He says that side of Tulsa has been undeserved over the years.
"The commerce that will develop out of there will be incredible," he said. "It's the only area in Tulsa that has such potential, huge amount of potential."
The project has been on the books since the 50's. The right of way was purchased long ago, so not many residents would be displaced. The sticking point is the bridge that would have to be built over the Arkansas River, at an estimated cost of between $40 and $100 million. That's where the toll comes in.
So theoretically, the new road would pay for itself. The city would put a toll bridge across the river right where we're sitting right now, and recoup its expenses that way.
While a new turnpike could mean new customers, Mary Colebrook learned to stop worrying about the project a long time ago.
"I've been sitting on this corner for 35 of those 50. So if it happens, it happens. Progress goes on, things happen," Colebrook said.
Construction began last month on expanding a part of the Gilcrease Expressway. A new road is being built between the LL Tisdale and 41st West Avenue.
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