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Tulsa World: Bridges

Tulsa World: Bridges

by: World's Editorial Writers
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
4/15/2009 4:15:34 AM

Build it, and they will come.

That's as hackneyed a cliche as there is, but it's also true. One major reason development to the north and west of Tulsa hasn't moved more quickly is because we haven't built needed transportation infrastructure in the region.

The region's expressway system envisions two loops encircling the urban area: an inner loop that disperses traffic in the center of the region, and an outer loop that provides the same function in outlying areas. Tulsa's outer loop is completed, with the exception of the arc serving the northwest quadrant.

The Gilcrease Expressway — the final segment of the outer loop — is inching along at a painfully slow pace and is decades away from final completion. Eventually it will loop all the way around the northwest side of town and connect with Interstate 44.

Other related street projects are advancing, thanks to city capital funding approved in recent years. Within a few years, arterial links to the Gilcrease will be finished or well along.

But a critical component to northwest passage remains only a dream at this point: a bridge across the Arkansas River at 57th West Avenue.

Bridges are big-ticket items and therefore not easily financed. That's why a working group of stakeholders has come back together to try to advance this bridge project. The group includes officials from the cities of Tulsa and Sand Springs, Tulsa County, the state Department of Transportation, the Southwest Chamber of Commerce and the Indian Nations Council of Governments, among others.

Doug Enevoldsen, Sand Springs city manager, is one of the group's members. "We are convinced that the lack of an adequate transportation infrastructure has created a serious impediment to the future growth of Tulsa, and we're convinced it's time to do something about that rather than wait another 50 years," he said.

He's exactly right, of course. And this group's focus on the much-needed bridge is right on target too. The more local leaders and advocates can call attention to a need such as this one, and muster possible resources, the more likely it will be done sooner rather than later.

Development isn't the only activity being hindered by the lack of a bridge. Emergency services and freight movement also are highly dependent on a good transportation infrastructure.

There's only so much the local group can do, but pooling their considerable abilities and resources is a lot better than doing nothing. "Everybody's busy with their own issues, but it's critical that we come together and place front and center a project of this sort and make it a priority," Enevoldsen said.

Right again. Let's get to work.

1 comment (Add your own)

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