Tulsa Drivers Should Prepare For Busy Construction Season

Tuesday, March 10th 2015, 7:07 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The time change and improving weather can only mean one thing, it's the start of road construction season – and it's going to be a busy one.

This summer Tulsa will have more road projects underway at one time than ever before.

People are already complaining about the barrels now, but the pace of construction won't slow down much between now and 2020.

It doesn't matter much if you're going or coming, there's construction just about everywhere.

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"It is everywhere. I live south of 61st and Yale, Harvard, Sheridan, Memorial and now 61st Street is messed up," said driver Tom Walbank.

Tulsa's drivers navigated a five-year surge of road construction and now another five years is coming, this one with even more projects.

“You used to have a spring bloom of potholes; now you have a spring bloom of orange barrels,” said City Engineer, Paul Zachary.

Zachary said, during that time, the city will spend $70 - $80 million a year to redo the roads.

“In a five-year timeframe we got 20 years of previous funding, and five years later, and because of the success of Fix Our Streets, we got another 20 year bundle,” he said.

Zachary said the city tries to coordinate projects to limit total gridlock, but the number of projects makes that hard.

For example, the city just wrapped up major projects along Lewis and Yale south of I-44. New projects just started on Harvard and Sheridan from 51st to 61st, and on 61st over to Mingo.

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When that's done, they'll move to intersections in the same area, including 71st and Memorial and 71st by the Mall.

That concentration of construction will cover the city.

“You never had a map like this to deal with. You might have had a widening project there or a waterline there, but now we have 80 projects like that all over the city," Zachary said.

Tulsa's drivers still have plenty of potholes on the pathway to progress, but there are smoother roads ahead.

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"As long as they can get this done and get it smoothed out, it will be really good," driver Stanford Higgins said.

While there's something of a hotspot right now on north/south streets in south Tulsa, that will change; in two years massive work is due just southeast of downtown in the 15th and Lewis area and around the gathering place, but it's really going to be almost everywhere.