'Improve Our Tulsa' Proposes $28M For Roads, Bridges

Wednesday, November 6th 2013, 6:43 pm
By: News On 6

The vote on a $918 million capital improvements package is less than a week away.

"Improve Our Tulsa" would pay for a wide range of things, including the maintenance and repair of streets and bridges.

The city would widen Riverside Drive from 24th to 33rd Place South. That project alone has a $19 million price tag.

The proposal would not raise the city's sales tax, but it would increase property tax for one year, in 2019. City leaders say it needs to pass, because many of the roads and bridges need to be replaced or repaired.

There are more than 4,300 miles of roads in the city of Tulsa. On Tuesday, voters will be asked to approve money to help repair, rehab, or replace many of those roads.

"Improve Our Tulsa" is two separate propositions, a bond proposal dedicated to streets and bridges, and a sales tax extension, which includes public safety and other capital improvement projects along with street repair. The proposals' to-do list includes nearly $28 million dedicated to bridges across town and $88 million for street widening.

"And so, [it is] an ounce of prevention up here versus a pound of replacement down here," said Matt Liechti, with the city's engineering department.

11/5/2013 Related Story: 'Improve Our Tulsa' Contains Upgrades For Police, Fire Departments

"If this doesn't pass, it would be disastrous," said Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum.

Bynum said voters need to understand the projects need to happen one way or another.

"What we're doing right now, what we're asking Tulsans to do right now, is to invest in their streets so they don't have to pay more later on," Bynum said.

David Oldham is with Citizens for a Better Vision. They don't oppose the repair of Tulsa streets, but they don't like that the plan has been split into two different proposals. They're also worried that the wording on the ballot leaves room for future city leaders to change the terms or projects.

"They want to leave a lot of leeway for them to do things as they see fit later on, and the problem is that what we vote on today could be co-oped later on or just mean nothing," Oldham said.

A forum will be held Wednesday night for residents to learn more about "Improve Our Tulsa." Some city councilors will be on hand, along with the representatives from Tulsa Parks, the zoo, and the library. It's at 6:30 at the Zarrow International School Gymnasium.

11/6/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Voters Also To Decide On Three Propositions In Tuesday Election