POSTED ON MARCH 30, 2011:
City Roads Weathered the Snow. All that snow that piled up in Tulsa during a series of winter storms in January may have made for some rotten driving conditions, but it apparently didn't have much of a lasting effect on the city's roads.
That's the assessment of Paul Strizek of the city's Public Works Department. With the turn of the calendar to spring, Strizek said the city's streets emerged no worse than normal pothole wise, despite the snowiest winter on record in Tulsa.
"The snow is nowhere near as bad as ice," he said, explaining that the constant melting and refreezing of the ice allows moisture to seep into the roadway, expand and cause cracks.
"Every time we go through that freeze-thaw cycle, it damages the pavement," he said, explaining that the worst winters for Tulsa's roads occur when the city has three or four ice storms and a prolonged period of freezing temperatures. That didn't happen this year, when Tulsa had a relatively mild winter, despite all the snow.
But that doesn't mean the city got off scot free, he said.
"What did happen is a lot of our plows and our contract plows hit stuff," including curbs, driveways, median signs, mailboxes and decorative landscaping elements, he said, because of the depth of the snow made visibility so bad. "In some instances, we even peeled the grass off lawns by accident. But people need to remember, this was a record snowfall for Tulsa."
Strizek said the three storms that dumped a total of 22.5 inches of snow on Tulsa in a little more than a week were different from other weather emergencies the city has had to deal with. There was plenty of warning the snow was coming, he said, and the storms led to only a handful of deaths and relatively little property damage.
But even with the city basking in 70-degree temperatures for much of March, Strizek was hesitant to say Tulsa has seen the last of the freezing precipitation until next winter.
"I never say that," he said. "I've been doing this for 33 years. I remember one year we got snow on April 13."
Industry Into Oil Ordinance. An ordinance passed by the City Council in January 2010 that would allow oil and gas drilling inside the city limits for the first time in a century finally appears to have drawn some industry interest, with four inquiries having been received by the city over the past several weeks, according to Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr.
"We've been approached by three or four people who have an interest, although we don't know where," Bartlett said earlier this month.
The city is still evaluating those inquiries, he said.
"In my opinion, we need to take it slow and easy because we don't want to make a snap decision," he said, acknowledging that drilling a well and installing a pump can be an invasive and lasting process. "In my view, we want to make sure we approach that decision with good thought. If we do decide to allow drilling, I'd prefer to allow it on land owned by the city of Tulsa where the city owns some of the mineral rights. That way, we'll have better control of it, the city would be the recipient of some of the royalties and we'd make a better return."
Bartlett, who serves as president of Tulsa's Keener Oil & Gas Company, was a supporter of the ordinance when the council was considering it and believes the city could benefit from it financially at some point.
"I think this is not something that is going to make us much money, but it should give us a nice, steady stream of revenue," he said, though he repeated the city's approach should be a cautious one. "Once the decision is made, we realize we'll have to live with this strategy a long time. I don't want to allow the existence of a well to stand in the way of a better use of a piece of property in five or 10 years."
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