River Development Still In The Works

Friday, May 23rd 2008, 6:39 pm
By: News On 6

When the river tax failed, many thought river development was too. The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports there's a commitment to use state and federal tax money to build the dams on the river and since it went through the legislature, it doesn't require the uncertainty of a public vote.

The breakthrough on river development came after an intense lobbying effort for state tax money. It means dams will be built on the Arkansas, now it's just a matter of when.

"We didn't give up and now it looks like we'll have the funding to move forward," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.

The county already has $10 million that's dedicated to the dams, but even with the new state money it's not enough.

"We're estimating at this point $85 to $100 million for the two new low water dams and the modifications to Zink Dam.  That includes major modifications to Zink and pedestrian bridges on the two low water dams," said PMG Environmental Manager Gaylon Pinc.

The bulk of construction money will come from federal taxes.

The Congress authorized $50 million dollars for the dams and Friday a spokesman for Senator Jim Inhofe said he's committed to it, so it's going to happen.

With the money in place, it's still a 4 to 5 year process to replace Zink Dam and build the other two low water dams.  That's about a year longer than it would have taken if Tulsa has passed the river tax.

The dams will build on what's happening now along the river.

The Cyrus Avery/Route 66 plaza is almost done and a museum is planned. There is private money from the Kaiser Family Foundation revamping the river trails.    

The question is now whether the public money to build the dams, will trigger the same private money pledged during the failed river tax campaign.