Drivers, Bicyclists Alike Feeling Impact Of West Tulsa Bridge Construction

Thursday, June 2nd 2016, 11:06 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A west Tulsa bridge project has hundreds of commuters taking a daily detour, including Tulsa's largest group of cyclists.

The bridge over I-244 on 23rd Street is a main route over to Avery Drive and to Chandler Park, but it's under construction and forcing thousands of people to find a new way.

Most every night when there's good weather, cyclists gather to start a 25-mile circuit to Sand Springs and back.

Getting there is one thing, getting back is another, thanks to detour signs that went up this week and will be there for a year.

"We kind of ride through the refinery and over the tracks," cyclist Bob Monnet said.

The detour suggested by ODOT goes through the Holly refinery, over the tracks, to 17th Street. One of the problems with the detour is that instead of going over the tracks, cyclists and drivers have to wait on the train - and a lot of trains come by the refinery.

Trains from the switchyard to the south keep that crossing busy, so everyone has to wait; cars, trucks and cyclists all get backed up at the tracks.

ODOT's project is just beginning, so, for now, the bridge is just blocked off and empty, but it's a complete redo of a bridge over the interstate and the tracks.

There are other ways to get there, but the bridge was the cyclists preferred path.

“It's a good route and we stay off busy streets. There's only one stretch that's got a lot of traffic, and that's just about a mile and a half,” Monnet said.

Most cyclists we talked with were on their first ride since the project started and had to start rechecking their GPS to figure out how to get back.

For some, the detour was confusing because traffic exiting the highway still comes out by the roadblock.

Several cyclists said they can find a new way and the bigger concern is the traffic riding by.

Cyclist Eddie James said, “Where we have trouble is Dodge diesels, with mirrors that stick out about this far, and big smokestacks.”

Several events are planned at Chandler Park this weekend - the fastest route into there might be from the south or west through Sand Springs.