Tulsa's 'Vision 2025' looking at Route 66

Wednesday, May 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Wednesday, the Vision 2025 group held another meeting. The group heard presentations from organizations hoping to be part of Tulsa's vision for the future.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells was at the summit and says something different, not lots of presentations but one presentation that focused on the hopes of several groups, with a vision of the future that focuses on the past.

Tulsa city councilor Chris Medlock: "Do it big or don't do it at all." Chris Medlock is talking about a regional project, one that will benefit different areas of the city. The common thread Route 66.

The centerpiece perhaps something that's already there. The old 11th Street bridge, which would become the Avery Bridge Route 66 Park and Trail. Named for Cyrus Avery the acknowledged father of the Mother Road. "We can very easily lay claim to it. The Smithsonian Institution right now has a Route 66 exhibition going on that sites Cyrus Avery as the founder."

Route 66 travelers used to cross the Arkansas River on that bridge, now it's trapped in a sort of time warp between Southwest Boulevard and I-44. People driving by are probably unaware of the historical significance of the bridge. In fact it's a registered historical landmark, some would say we should be embarrassed about what's it's become.

There would be museums focusing on Tulsa's history. A Route 66 and antique car museum on 11th Street in east Tulsa. And oil, gas and transportation museum near the Sinclair Refinery on the west side. Areas of our history, which currently have no permanent home.

John Gray, who owns Ollie's Restaurant on Southwest Blvd, says a Route 66 focus would give a new Tulsa brand to market. "We've had brands. They're all gone oil capital is gone America's most beautiful city is gone. Route 66 is here, it's been here and it's gonna be here, it's a great brand. The home of Route 66."

Focusing on Arkansas River and Route 66 will not involve building lots of new things; it puts its emphasis on making improvements to what we already have. Getting more out of the least amount of money.