Work Continues As City Announces When Riverside Drive Reopens

Monday, June 11th 2018, 6:01 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa’s Riverside Drive has been closed three years, and though the road is mostly finished, it won’t officially open until September 10.

There's still a lot of work left to do along the sides of the road, and even in the last three months, Gathering Place still has a lot of construction traffic on Riverside.

6/11/2018 Related Story: September 10th, Tulsa's Riverside Drive At Gathering Place To Reopen

It's almost hard to remember the old Riverside, with a slight "S" curve that dipped below the pedestrian bridge and lanes so narrow cars would sometimes hit the side.

The new Riverside is completely changed - it's straighter, flatter and high enough to never flood. It now goes through two tunnels in each direction and there are hills on both sides.

“We're looking forward to seeing people and their reaction to it because it's such a different experience than the old Blair Mansion lawn out there, totally flat. There isn't a flat spot out there since this project. Really, it's almost like you're driving through a valley section. It's really neat," said Paul Zachary with City of Tulsa.

The change to the landscape is why the road was closed for so long.

Every bit of dirt and rock that came in or out went down Riverside and now, just shy of three years after the road closed, Riverside remains busy just with Gathering Place construction traffic.

"We're still doing a lot of planting up and down the roadway and we're still getting all of our horticultural soil in and grass and plantings on the south end of the site. So, yeah, it's the major thoroughfare for construction traffic," said Jeff Stava with Gathering Place.

The City rebuilt neighborhood streets around the park in part to keep traffic from detouring there during the park's construction.

A main entry route, 31st Street, was redesigned to accommodate more people walking and riding bicycles.

The City spent millions to rebuild Riverside and added new water lines and storm drains. All the private utilities were rebuilt as well.

"We had to do basically the ultimate plan in here because we're not going to have another chance," Zachary said.

For the first two days of the opening, the road remains closed with temporary parking on the south end of Gathering Place at 31st Street. After that, the two miles now closed fully reopens for thru traffic and the thousands of people expected to visit the park every day.