Problems With A Tulsa Street Repaving Project

Tuesday, July 11th 2006, 10:29 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa road renovation project hasn't turned out quite the way the city and the neighborhood had hoped. The job is about finished on Peoria from 21st to 31st.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the job took a long time, but Peoria is open for traffic after a major renovation project.

The road was dug out and the utilities reworked, but it wasn't widened at all. The city of Tulsa wanted to widen the road to meet modern standards, but the neighbors didn't want to lose any land or trees.

The effort to squeeze in a sidewalk created more problems. There's a pole at 31st and Peoria that blocks the sidewalk. It's a new pole, and new sidewalk. The problem is there's just not room for both.

Here's how the city explains it. Mike Buchart with the city of Tulsa: "Because we put a constraint on it to obtain no more right of way, it was the only way to do that, but we shouldn't have done that." But the city didn't buy more right of way to satisfy the neighborhood and save money.

Neighbors didn't want their trees cut to widen Peoria and they worried about more drivers speeding. Neighborhood representative Greg Bledsoe: "Perhaps you can make an argument that safety should come first and wide streets could come first but this is a give and take situation, I think we have a decent street, not a perfect street, but an improved street."

There were several problems with the project that neighbors noticed city inspectors missed. One is a section of sidewalk. For no good reason, it ends in the grass, but the traffic signal button is farther down and a person in a wheelchair could never punch this button.

Across the street, the sidewalk has been widened so people can get around the poles, and workers are building retaining walls. The street itself was rebuilt within the original curb line and widened only to move the storm drains out of the street.

The city councilor for the area says it was a balance of improving streets and protecting property rights. Cason Carter: "But I think anytime you do a construction job, there's going to be little things you want to change before you do the final inspection."

And the city is working on options for the pole at 31st and Peoria. It might move the wall around a home. They're in talks with the homeowner, but didn't start talking, until recently, after the sidewalk was built.