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Midtown Construction Complicated By Natural Spring Under Asphalt

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

A problem has been bubbling up under a Tulsa road construction project. It's one of the complications adding to the cost of fixing 31st and Harvard.

It’s one of the last big jobs from a sales tax passed in 2008.

Water is the enemy of good roads, and in this case, some natural spring water has bubbled up underneath the pavement and has made the road bumpy. But the real problem is a tangle of water and drain lines underneath, which now are being dug up and replaced.

It's been more than 30 years, at least, according to the city, since the busy intersection of 31st and Harvard has been reworked.

Now that the city is digging into it, it's more clear than ever why they haven't done it before now.

The intersection has an unusually complicated network of buried and above-ground utilities that need to be moved. But the area has water seeping from the ground, some of it from leaking pipes, some of it from natural ground water.

“Down about 28th and Harvard there was a spring down in there, some natural water, but the shoving of the asphalt, that's been asphalt on top of asphalt over the years,” City of Tulsa engineer Paul Zachary said.

AT&T is abandoning a utility tunnel that runs underneath 31st Street and it will be moving equipment off the road.

PSO had poles right next to the street and they've been moved across the sidewalk.

There's buried Cox cable and a big natural gas line, but the biggest complication is a big water main down Harvard.

"Our problem is that some areas from 26th ultimately to 41st, there’s a 24-inch water line, and the services are directly connected to the 24-inch line," Zachary said.

The solution means the city has to build a second transmission line and get everyone hooked on before they turn off the old one. It's so old, the lead connections constantly leak, so there's water underneath the street.

The complicated utilities pushed the cost of the intersection to $1.73 million, and it stretched the timeline to more than a year just for utilities.

The actual street work will come after Thanksgiving. And then the work moves South.

"So hopefully we'll get 31st and Harvard, we'll get all the street work done before we move to 41st and Harvard,” Zachary said. “It's a mess.”


 

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