71st Street Traffic - Could It Get Any Worse?

Wednesday, October 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Many drivers describe the traffic at 71st street and Highway 169 as going from bad to worse. The city recently began a year-long project to widen 71st street to six lanes in the area.

But as News on Six reporter Steve Berg tells us, drivers will have to make do with two lanes for the time being.

As officials are quick to point out, 71st has never had more than two lanes along this particular stretch, but it's probably never been quite this busy either.

Sherry Thurman, Motorist: "I find the traffic is horrible... I just try to avoid it at the high peak time when there's a lot more traffic... however with the holiday's coming up it's going to be a lot more treacherous."

Treacherous as well for merchants, who count on the holidays for a huge share of their yearly revenue.

Kathy Ashton, Manager, Seasonal Concepts: "The customers come in the door and they complain about it... We have two months to go through Christmas merchandise so it's pretty... I'm concerned about it."

Besides the existing merchants, there are new ones, big ones being added... and that will bring even more traffic to the area.

And some of the new businesses will be in place before the new road. The project still has about nine more months to go. But officials say that's as fast as they can go and still keep the road open.

Albert Martinez, Tulsa Public Works Department: "We want to keep it open because of all the businesses in the area and it's a main arterial route... and well, you have to worry about your fire departments, your police departments... etc. etc. If we could shut down a street, we could probably get it built in nine months, ten months but it's more important to let people come through."

Even if they come through very slowly.