POSTED ON JUNE 30, 2010:
Caution: More Work Ahead
While some road projects begin to come to an end, others are already in the works
Road Stoppers. Throughout the course of the next year, according to city officials, 47 street projects will be advertised, though only four of them are planned for arterial streets.
Motorists weary of three major road construction projects in south Tulsa should begin to see some relief by fall with the anticipated completion of the first project. But getting around the city might not necessarily grow any easier, given the fact that a host of new projects is scheduled to begin soon.
Matt Liechti, lead engineer for the city's Public Works Department, said the end is in sight for at least two of the three projects that rank among the city's most significant right now. Work on E.81st St. between S. Memorial Drive and S. Mingo Road -- carrying a price tag of $8.6 million -- is scheduled for completion in October, he said, while work on the intersection of E. 91st St. and S. Sheridan Road ($4.5 million) should be done by the end of the year.
But work on S. Lewis Ave. between E. 61st St. and E. 75th St. -- a project that has snarled traffic and tested the patience of motorists and local merchants for months already -- is not scheduled for completion until August 2011, according to Liechti.
Paul Zachary, the city's deputy director of engineering, told Urban Tulsa Weekly last month those three projects were the biggest and most challenging the city was undertaking as part of its massive roads reconstruction project. In many cases, work at those sites has been accompanied by electrical, telephone, waste and storm sewer line relocations, all of which has slowed progress considerably.
The news is better in regard to another major project on 41st St. between Peoria Ave. and Riverside Drive, according to Liechti. Work there -- consisting of the rehabilitation of the street, water line replacement and the construction of additional sidewalks -- is ahead of schedule and should be finished by February 2011, he said. That project costs $2.1 million.
City officials said work on two projects -- Riverside Drive between 61st Street and 56th Street, and Peoria Avenue between 36th St. N. and 56th Street N. -- was finished in late May or early June.
Even as those projects are dropped from the list, others will be added. According to city officials, the next arterial street widening project to begin will be S.129th E. Ave. between E. 31st Street and E. 41st St. Liechti said 129th would be widened from two lanes to four lanes over that span.
The project will be advertised in July, and he expects work on utility relocations at the site to begin sometime toward the end of the year, though he said that date depends largely on the contractor.
"I do not anticipate that it would take over a year," he said when asked about the project's completion date.
Funding for that project is coming from the July appropriation from the 2006 third penny sales tax.
Several projects to be funded by federal stimulus dollars were advertised in June, including E. 61st St. between S. Yale Ave. and S. Sheridan Road, Riverside Parkway between 68th and 71st Sts, S. Lewis Ave. between E. 21st St. and E. 31st St., S. Union Ave. between W. 71st St. and W. 81st St., and the intersection of Admiral Place and Garnett Road. Stimulus funding was available only for "shovel-ready" projects, lending a sense of urgency to Tulsa's road construction and rehabilitation effort.
Throughout the course of the next year, according to city officials, 47 street projects will be advertised, though only four of them are planned for arterial streets. Five of those are trails projects, while the remaining 38 will be taking place on non-arterial, or neighborhood, streets. That's good news for most drivers, Liechti said.
"Unless a citizen lives in that neighborhood, they won't really notice it," he said.
That will serve as a sharp contrast to the current situation, with work being done on arterial streets throughout the city. City leaders felt compelled to call a press conference in May to plead for patience on the part of local motorists, and Liechti said he believes that message has sunk in.
"I think anybody who drives around Tulsa is well aware of the construction on arterial streets," he said. "We're really picking up steam."
Zachary said in May it would be 2015 or 2016 before all the projects currently being planned are completed.
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