Downtown Tulsa's Boulder Avenue Bridge Re-Opens To Traffic

Monday, February 4th 2013, 7:53 am
By: News On 6

The downtown Boulder Avenue bridge over the Burlington-Northern tracks is open again.

After being closed for years, because of its unsafe condition, it's hoped the new bridge will drive the on-going expansion of the Brady Arts District.

There was always hope that a new bridge might be built, and Monday that dream finally became a reality.

With the cutting of the ribbon, another piece of Tulsa's Master Plan for downtown fell into place, connecting the heart of the city to the developing Brady Arts District.

"It really is, metaphorically, a turning point in a very positive way, of the renaissance that we're seeing in our downtown area," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

The new Boulder bridge comes with some much needed upgrades. It will accommodate four lanes of traffic, and has extra wide sidewalks for joggers and bikers.

The bridge is, "a very good example of a whole lot of things that are happening on North Brady," Bartlett said.

The sides are lined with red brick and art designed by students from Tulsa Tech. LED lighting will make it visible at night.

Bob Fleischman, President of the Brady Arts District Business Association, said it's more than an extra option for travelers.

"This bridge really dumps into the heart of the Brady District," Fleischman said. "There is just that extra opportunity, for another 100 or 200 people to be in the district every day. It can make all the difference in the heartiness of the district, and the economic turn that it takes."

Ken Levit, Executive Director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, said he understands the importance of that economic turn. He said nearly half a billion dollars has been invested within the Brady Arts District in just the last five years.

"In order to have a strong and vibrant Tulsa, we've got to have a great downtown," Levit said.

He said this new bridge will help lead to future development.

"People want to be back here, they want to move back here, they want to put their offices here, they want to start their business here," Levit said.

More than four years of work and $8 million went into making this day possible. City leaders say it's an investment in the future of Tulsa and a step toward bringing the community together.

"It's important for us to see downtown as an entity, and not three little different neighborhoods trying to vie for their own," Fleischman said.

The bridge is now open to drivers. It was paid for by both the 2006 third penny sales tax, and a 2008 bond issue.