Different Materials Used On Similar Tulsa Street Projects

Friday, October 2nd 2015, 7:20 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Two south Tulsa street projects have a lot in common, and one big distinction.

The City of Tulsa is paving a mile of Harvard in concrete and a mile of Sheridan in asphalt. We heard a couple of different reasons as to why, but it really seemed to boil down to upfront money.

Concrete costs more, though, it needs a lot less maintenance.

South Harvard Avenue is a mess of construction. The City is widening it to five lanes, replacing pipes underneath and building new curbs along a street made of concrete.

There's a similar job underway on Sheridan, except for the widening and new curbs. The city dug up the street but chose asphalt for the job.

It was a decision made as soon as the bids came in, according to Britt Vance, the engineer over construction.

"We bid concrete and asphalt. The asphalt was about $400,000 cheaper than concrete on that section," he said.

That put the price-tag on asphalt work on Sheridan at $4.2 million, while the concrete street on Harvard is $4.7 million.

On the Harvard project, the city called for concrete specifically on the newly widened street.

Vance said, "I think our preference on the arterial streets is concrete first, especially when it's a new street."

And that preference continues at intersections where the city found concrete holds up better where traffic is stopping or turning.

So, while most intersections come in concrete, the streets connecting them are often in asphalt to save money.

The downside with asphalt is the constant maintenance, but it can extend the life of the street to almost forever.

Concrete has a defined lifetime and then you have to start over.

Paul Zachary with the City of Tulsa said, "That's the downside to concrete."

The City's chief engineer said he's learned both products have their place, and sometimes the extra maintenance on asphalt is worth it because it's easier to fix than concrete.

“It lasts a long time, but when it gets bad,” Zachary said, “it gets bad in a hurry, and there's no cheap fix for it."

Both of the jobs are on time and within budget, according to the city, which said both should be done by the end of the year.