Gilcrease Turnpike Expansion Still On Track, Transportation Leaders Say
TULSA, Oklahoma - The long-awaited Gilcrease Expressway Turnpike is on schedule, but officials said building it will be a challenge, and some neighbors aren't yet on board.
At a meeting in downtown Tulsa Friday, everyone involved in the unique project - which will be funded by public and private entities - is excited about the progress being made on the designs.
But the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority acknowledges they still have some hurdles.
"The project is progressing just about as expected. Again, it hasn't been without some challenges," said OTA Executive Director Tim Gatz.
For one, they are building 22 bridges along the five-mile turnpike. The bridges are about 1,000 feet each across the Arkansas River and Berryhill Creek.
Also, they still haven't figured out where they're going to put a toll plaza and say they'll need an unconventional tolling strategy.
While City and State officials are excited about the new turnpike, the folks in one neighborhood - which would become the backyard of the new West 41st Street interchange - aren't so sure.
"My initial feeling is that we really don't need it," neighbor Kristy Lawson said.
She said everyone knows each other around there and they like the open space. She said they don't have traffic or crime problems in that part of the Berryhill School District.
"I feel like putting in the turnpike is going to increase the traffic and increase crime, and a lot of people here in Berryhill just don't want it," Lawson said.
But it's happening, and construction on a dream that the City of Tulsa has had for decades will start in a little more than a year.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority also still has to buy 20 pieces of land. They should be sending buyout offers to property owners in the next four to six weeks.