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15th Street crosswalks enhanced after deadly crash in 2021

Posted at 10:02 PM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 10:37:30-04

TULSA, Okla.  — The Tulsa State Fair is days away and the city of Tulsa is working to keep fairgoers safe.

This year, people will see five new crosswalks along 15th street. The goal is to avoid a tragedy like one last year that killed one man as he crossed the busy intersection at night.

Steve Nelson has lived in the Fair Heights neighborhood north of Expo Square for 26 years. He's already counting the days to the Tulsa State Fair.

“I love it because there’s people parking in the street, it’s kind of a festive time of year we all go in groups to the fair," Nelson said.

He said many fairgoers park along his block. The large crowds also draw in more traffic to the area, particularly along 15th Street, between his neighborhood and the fairgrounds.

“At nighttime is when it gets bad," Nelson said.

He said poor lighting and drivers going above the posted speed limit made the intersections along 15th dangerous for pedestrians. He said he knows of at least two accidents nearby.

"A bunch of us were standing out here talking, it was at nighttime in the dark and we just heard breaks on a car and a thump where they hit a girl... I guess it was a girl. It was two or three years ago and then last year a guy got hit," Nelson said.

51-year-old Luis Calzada was leaving the fair last October when he was killed, hit by a driver as he was crossing the street. At the time, police said low lighting could have contributed to the accident.

Since then, the city of Tulsa was awarded $150,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Grant. The city said they used the money to add five rectangular rapid flashing beacons with yellow lights along 15th Street.

They've also re-striped the existing crosswalks, added new L-E-D lighting, trimmed trees along the median and adjusted the speed to 35 MPH.

“I mean, they needed to… they should have done it a long time ago," Nelson said.

Nelson said he's glad the city has been working to make this intersection safer for pedestrians and he's ready for the fair to get underway.

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