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KOTV - 10/5/2007 6:00 AM - Updated 10/5/2007 2:49 PM

River Trail Construction Update

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A vote by Tulsa County residents on a proposed tax for river development isn't until next Tuesday, but some work on the Arkansas River in Tulsa is already underway. The project has been in the works for years and is privately funded. Its purpose, like other proposed river projects, is to improve the quality of life in Tulsa.

Cyclist Ben Estes rides his bike to the end of the trail, but he sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I think it's wonderful," says cyclist Ben Estes.

He's pleased with the construction underway between 21st and 31st Streets along Riverside Drive. Workers are constructing a new 18 foot wide dual trail to better accommodate cyclists, walkers and joggers. River Parks officials say it's needed.

"And this will make the trails safer because this will separate the cyclists and the joggers. We've had some accidents. We've had some near misses. So this is a safety improvement," said River Parks Authority Director Matt Meyer.

People who use the trails agree.

"It's really hard walking on this side of the river, or jogging on this side of the river, cause the bikers, skateboarders nearly run over you," said jogger Delia Bookout.

"The regulars are not a problem. It's the people that show up and this is their first time and they bring the kids and they stop right in the middle of the trail. That's a lot of fun," adds cyclist Ben Estes.

The George Kaiser Foundation forked over $12 million to make the trail improvements. They'll include new benches and lighting.

The first phase of the expansion project is expected to take about three months. Then, the project continues onto 71st Street. After that, it goes across to the west side of the Arkansas River and back. The entire project is expected to take about three years.

Where there is enough room, the improvements will include two separate trails, one for cyclists and one for pedestrians.

Until they're complete, the River Parks Authority advises users to look for signs showing alternate routes and have patience. Parks officials say it'll be worth it.

"We'll have the best trails within several hundred miles," said River Parks Authority Director Matt Meyer.

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