Gilcrease Expressway To Be Finished As A Turnpike
TULSA, Oklahoma - Governor Mary Fallin announced a plan to expand and improve Oklahoma's turnpikes, including finishing the Gilcrease Expressway on the northwest side of Tulsa.
The Gilcrease Expressway cuts through some of the largest hills in Tulsa, allowing drivers to get all the way from the airport to 41st street. But city leaders want it to also cross the Arkansas River, connecting to I-44.
Paul Zachary, Tulsa city engineer, said, "Everyone has been looking at how can we build this road faster, this is just one piece toward that."
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has offered 28-million dollars to help complete the western loop of the Gilcrease Expressway. The bond money will pay for a two-and-a-half mile section from Edison to 21st Street, including a bridge going over the Arkansas River.
It will also connect to Highway 412.
"It's going to help it move faster but not as fast as we need it to go even faster," said City Councilor Jack Henderson.
When the expressway is complete, it's expected to spur economic development and give trucks a more direct route to their destination.
"The Port of Catoosa needs that expressway to be complete, so all those trucks that need a better route, it will provide that route," he said.
"This will be a heavy haul bridge so all the heavy load equipment will no longer have to go through the downtown city of Tulsa," said Zachary.
However, initial studies show it will take another 70-million dollars for the Gilcrease Expressway to reach its full potential. The city of Tulsa is raising the money through sales tax and federal funding. That equals about eight-million a year.
Henderson said, "This expressway has already taken 50 years to build, no other expressway in Tulsa or Oklahoma has taken 50 years to build, if we continue to move at the snails pace we are right now, it could be another 50 years."
Preliminary design plans will be done next year to determine the exact cost of this project, in the meantime city leaders will work toward securing more money .