Power Struggle Over I-44 Expansion

Friday, April 4th 2008, 5:56 pm
By: News On 6

Some Tulsa residents are angry over the I-44 expansion. They say the construction will force power lines to move closer to their property.  The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports a town hall meeting on Friday brought out dozens of people.  Some are unhappy about plans to move the power lines and they hope to have the lines buried instead.

The work has been going on for years.

"They're working on it right now. They're clearing out this stretch here They've already widened some of it," said Eugene Butler of Ark Wrecking.

But, now the expansion of I-44 enters its trickiest phase.

"This is really the only segment in town the I-44 widening project really parallels closely with any of our facilities," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

The segment is between Harvard and Lewis Avenues along 51st street.

"This is an area that is a major infrastructure location," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

As the construction gets more intense, a big issue is what to do with all the power lines.

"They're tearing up the road. They're having all this project go on.  It's an opportune time to bury the lines," said Terri Heritage who owns property along 51st Street.

Heritage says if you don't bury the power lines, what's going to have to happen is they'll move about 10 feet across the street, closer to some buildings.

"If you're considering relocating your business or investing in this area, you want it to be, as we tout, a beautiful city," said Terri Heritage.

A PSO spokesman says burying lines on easily accessible, busy roads is both unnecessary and expensive.  And, he says nothing's set in stone.

"There is the possibility that when we see the plan we won't need to relocate anything," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

PSO says they won't know what to do with the power lines until the Oklahoma Department of Transportation gives a project timeline.

ODOT is saying they don't have an exact blueprint because the financing isn't all there.

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