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Good Business Brings Traffic Troubles To Tulsa Hills Shopping Area

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ODOT is planning some improvements but not any time soon. ODOT is planning some improvements but not any time soon.
Area residents and drivers say they've noticed more traffic headaches as business booms in south Tulsa. Area residents and drivers say they've noticed more traffic headaches as business booms in south Tulsa.
Many people say having the shops and restaurants in the area are worth the traffic. Many people say having the shops and restaurants in the area are worth the traffic.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa Police say they'll have extra officers patrolling Woodland Hills,  the 41st and Yale retail corridor, Utica Square and Tulsa Hills over the back-to-school shopping weekend. 

Traffic can be a mess around Tulsa Hills even on a normal weekend, let alone a tax-free shopping event. People who live and drive in the area shouldn't expect anything to be done anytime soon to alleviate the traffic east of Highway 75 between 71st and 84th Streets South.

People who live in that area say traffic gets worse almost every day. They've really noticed a difference since The Walk at Tulsa Hills opened up. Officials say plans to improve the exit ramp from Highway 75 to the shopping center won't happen for at least six years. 

A line of traffic can form almost at any time of day now on 81st Street, near Highway 75.  With Chuy's opening soon and Gander Mountain and Aldi's already attracting customers, these back-ups are likely only the beginning.

 "That's the way it is going to be if you are going to have more businesses around, there will be more traffic and people will just have to live with it," said shopper Vanessa Crosslen.

"We have watched it continue to grow more and more, but we just love having this here in this part of town," said Donna Wuerch.

And even more is on the way. Shoppers expect the traffic will only grow on 81st Street with each store that opens.  

Traffic on 71st Street seems to run more smoothly.  The bridge there is less than 10 years old and doesn't require you to stop at a light while exiting from Highway 75.

8/7/2015 Related Story: Tax-Free Shopping Weekend Underway In Oklahoma

Even though it was completed before Tulsa Hills opened, Kenna Carmon with ODOT says that wasn't the intention. 

"Some people have the misconception that the new interchange at 71st was a direct result of the Tulsa Hills development, which it was not. It was already underway," said Kenna Carmon.

She said the bridge replacement was already in the works because vehicles had been hitting the old bridge, and it wasn't able to handle the heavy traffic.

 That's not the case with the 81st Street bridge. Carmon says it will eventually need to be replaced, but it's not in critical need of replacement yet. 
    
"We've got it scheduled to go to bid in 2021, so it is down the road, but gives us plenty of time to put in a good functioning design at this location," said Kenna Carmon of ODOT.

"We are at the light, but at least we don't have to go to Bixby or all the way to Broken Arrow; I hate going down Memorial," said Vanessa Crosslen.

ODOT says the 81st Street bridge is categorized as a functionally obsolete bridge, which means the design isn't up to their current standards. When the plans are drawn up for the new bridge, traffic and future traffic will be taken into account, but that's six years away.

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