Tulsa's Gilcrease Turnpike Work To Start In A Year

Friday, March 10th 2017, 1:45 pm

A long planned but never funded highway could open in just over three years. The Gilcrease Expressway extension would be a turnpike through west Tulsa.

The route for the road was set in 1961, with the expectation the City could build it.

The City got things started, but was still decades from finishing until the deal came together.

Friday, a tent full of dignitaries celebrated the long path towards completing the Gilcrease Expressway.

The highway will blaze a trail near 57th West Avenue, through west Tulsa, bridging the Arkansas near Chandler Park, joining Highway 412 and Edison on the north.

3/2/2017 Related Story: City, OK Turnpike Authority Agree To Build West Leg Of Gilcrease Turnpike

Governor Mary Fallin said it was one of the first priorities Tulsa leaders brought to her as governor.

"To be able to have this loop around, to be able to develop a very important part of Tulsa, to relieve congestion and traffic and create better safety on our highways, and we're finally here to make that happen,” she said.

The City started buying right of way 50 years ago but it will still take a year to buy the rest of what's needed and finalize the plans.

The City has already finished a two connector road - suitable for heavy trucks - to the Gilcrease at 41st West Avenue. The new connection is expected to divert a lot of heavy trucks off the highways around downtown.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said, "This will provide more access routes through an expressway system, not city streets to existing industrial areas, and opens up a whole section of the city that's not primed for growth but will be with this highway.”

The deal depends on finding a private source to finance it, with the payback coming from tolls.

"Private sector involvement will be some financing and construction. We're going to try to put something together to make that work, if we can," said Secretary of Transportation, Gary Ridley.

The Gilcrease Turnpike connector will be about five miles long and cost $240 million.

The turnpike authority will maintain it to their highway standards.