TULSA, Okla. — The City of Tulsa broke ground on a $29 million street project Monday afternoon.
It's the most expensive street project in the city's history. Construction crews will widen South Yale Ave. between 81st Street and 91st Street.
“It’s a real bottleneck and it’s unsafe for people to drive on," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.
Crews will widen the road, taking it from two lanes to six lanes.
"It is a challenge," said Paul Zachary, city engineer for the City of Tulsa. "You go up there and you look and how in the world can we fit a six-lane road in here.”
Bynum said the city first began looking at redoing the road in 1997. With the hill and curves, it’s considered one of the most dangerous stretches in Tulsa. During Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Tulsa City Councilor Phil Lakin said a Tulsa police study shows there were 177 collisions on the road between 2004 and 2012.
“One of the real dangers of the road right now isn’t just the driving conditions," Bynum said. "It’s the fact that the road there now is sliding down the hill. It is not properly anchored.”
Before crews can work on the road, they’re moving utilities, building a retaining wall and working on sewer and water lines. The road will then close for four months starting in mid-January.
Along with widening it, crews will add landscaping and sidewalks. They’ll also flatten the road and make it straighter.
“It’s still going to have the bends in it," Zachary said. "They’re just not going to be as sharp as you come up they may be more sweeping of a curve. But the sight-distances from all the side roads, that was one of our big things. We wanted to make sure everyone can see.”
The project will bring major construction to the neighborhoods along the road. Zachary said they’ve been speaking with neighbors, and while it will cause a headache, many believe it’s needed.
“Turning on a two-lane road vs a six-lane facility, it’ll actually be easier," Zachary said. "We’ve had a lot of close calls. We were actually just talking with a neighbor. There’s a lot of near misses. Especially people are not looking because some of the roads are hidden.”
The project is expected to be completed in fall 2023.
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