Urban Planners Study Future Of Route 66 In Tulsa

Tuesday, March 24th 2015, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6

Route 66 may soon be getting a face-lift. Students with OU-Tulsa's Urban Design Studio met with an international planner and city leaders to talk about some ideas for the future of the famous highway.

For now, it's all just an idea, but City planners predict the district, along about a 3-mile stretch of Route 66 which is 11th Street now - could be the next hot spot for redevelopment.

It means more businesses could open here--and planners want to make sure it's pedestrian friendly.

Route 66 signs are still up all along the stretch of roadway once known as the "Main Street of America." Now there are many abandoned buildings and businesses which once thrived beside America's most traveled highway.

"I think Route 66 brought people across that highway let them see Tulsa as a great place to live and do business," said Dennis Whitacker City of Tulsa Planner.

The road once stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles. City planner Dennis Whitacker says it's time to revive the historic area.

"We anticipated 11th Street would be a viable place for businesses to come to when Cherry Street became very full or the downtown became very full," he said.

On Tuesday, a group of OU students along with city planners and International urban planner, Gil Penalosa, met to talk about what's next.

Gil Penalosa, international urban planner, said: "Now Tulsa has a magnificent opportunity on how to transform this historic Route 66 on a route that works for everybody, walking cycling."

"We are looking at things like street right away, where poles are located, driveways, how pedestrians are using streets," said Sean Shaefer, director of Urban Design Studio.

Penalosa has traveled to cities all over the world and said, the future is coming back to the basics - making cities easier to get around.

From crosswalks - to sidewalks - and even bike lanes, he noticed a few things as soon as he saw 11th Street.

"We saw a couple of people riding bikes on the sidewalk because it wasn't safe on the streets," said Gil Penalosa, international urban planner.

He also thought, crosswalks were too far apart but said the good thing is Route 66 is wide which means there's plenty of room to make adjustments.