Progress Report on the Creek Turnpike: Construction on Schedule

Friday, December 10th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Transportation Authority is involved in a massive construction project to expand the Creek Turnpike in Tulsa and Creek Counties. Once completed, the Creek Turnpike will be more than 33 miles long. The first section to open in early 2001 will be the West Creek extension, north of Sapulpa. Summer 2001 will bring the Broken Arrow South Loop, then the East Creek Extension, east of Broken Arrow, is scheduled to open in the early part of 2002.

Drivers will be able to get on or off the West Creek Turnpike Extension at Highway 75, South 49th West Avenue, South 65th West Avenue, and the Turner Turnpike. The total project, costing $367,000,000 is supposed to ease congestion on the overcrowded Interstate 44, I-244, and the Broken Arrow Expressway. Neal McCaleb, Oklahoma transportation authority director says when the turnpike is finished, it will become a continuous bypass around Tulsa.

The money for the project comes from bonds which will be repaid by turnpike tolls. Once it's finished, drivers will pay about $2.25 to travel the entire Creek. On average, nearly 35,000 people a day use the existing seven miles of Creek Turnpike.

Engineers have to be environmentally sensitive when directing the construction of the toll road. Construction is supposed to have the lowest possible impact on the environment. According to Steve Manek, transportation engineer, this includes wetlands, creek crossings, streams, habitat for endangered species or other animals. There are no endangered species in the Creek Turnpike construction area. Most of the wildlife are birds and deer. When completed, the Creek Turnpike will help ease Tulsa and Broken Arrow traffic, but will also help relieve traffic from the growing communities of Sapulpa and Bixby.

The West Extension is currently right on schedule, despite recent heavy rains. According to transportation department engineers, this fall’s weather has been perfect for making good construction progress.