The Future Of Downtown Street Construction

Thursday, February 28th 2008, 8:02 am
By: News On 6

There is a long list of "bad streets" in Tulsa, but downtown arguably has the highest concentration of those streets.  Everywhere you look, stop signs replace street lights and the area is a confusion of orange cones and barrels. 

The goal, according to city of Tulsa officials, is to have all of the construction completed by the time the BOK Center opens in September. 

News On 6 reporter Carina Soon reports on Tulsa's "worst streets," and the work remaining over the next 6 months. 

Weaving through orange traffic cones, guessing lane markers, the term "work in progress" is an understatement. 

"It's rough, it's real rough," said downtown Tulsa worker Terry Muse. 

For months, city crews have been ripping out old roads, and redoing water and sewer lines, along with repairing streets.  The city of Tulsa says about 50 blocks are being fixed all at the same time.   And drivers are just now starting to see improvements.  A stretch of Boston Avenue reopened this week after about two years of construction.   

"You'll see new way finding signs up soon, we're working on a comprehensive revitalization of downtown," said Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor. 

But according to some, that revitalization has hurt business.  Terry Muse has worked at Stem's Flower Shop for 5 years. 

"What have you seen business do here?" "Nothing," said Terry Muse. 

Muse says the store has its share of regular business from nearby buildings. 

"But as far as someone driving here to come in, once or twice, I probably could count them all on one hand," said Terry Muse. 

Business owners say they don't necessarily mind all of the construction and remodeling, but it's aesthetic, and doesn't solve the real problem and that's parking.  

"Why would they want to come here or any location downtown for business when you don't have a place to park?" said Terry Muse. 

The city argues there are plenty of places to park, 4,000 to 5,000 spaces alone not taken up by those who lease them monthly.  And as for the 18,000 guests expected at the BOK Center, the city says 2,500 spaces in two garages are within a block of the arena.  8-thousand additional spaces are within a ten minute walk.   Muse says that's not ideal. But he'll continue to serve customers and support the city he loves, counting down the days until all of this construction is finished.

It has been 30 years since the last big overhaul of Tulsa's downtown streets.  Back then it was another BOK project, the Williams Center.