City of Tulsa: Riverside Drive reopens this summer

Posted at 9:08 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-28 00:12:37-04

More orange barrels are popping up on Tulsa streets and highways. For some drivers, it feels like a trek just to get downtown with all the closures.

There is no official date yet, but when the plans for the Gathering Place were announced, the city realized it has one shot to upgrade and install roughly $50 million worth of pipes and drains where the huge park project was announced.

Mix that with all the earth moving and land bridges being put in, the city says for safety reasons you simply couldn't put cars on the road while this is all going on.

Everyone wants to know when their south Tulsa to downtown connection to Riverside Drive will be back open.

"It's a little bit tricky if you don't know the area I could understand it's a little bit hard to get through, but I'm used to detours," Tulsa park user Tanner Tewksbury said.

"It'll be nice not having to like re-navigate your trip - that will be really fun," Tulsa driver Kaitlyn Pelt said.

Tulsa's Gathering Place is nearing completion, but the barricades to Riverside Drive are still up.

Riverside Drive has been closed since July 2015, so coming up this summer that will hit a three-year mark, but city engineers tell me you can't have this open while a huge project like the gathering place is under construction.

We asked Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum for comment, a spokesperson couldn't make him available, so the city provided us with the City Engineer Paul Zachary. 

"After they build this park and do the fills that you're getting ready to see anywhere from five feet to 40 feet that's all our infrastructure underneath it," Zachary said, "You'll never have a chance to get back to it again."

Zachary took us beyond the barricades to show us why Riverside Drive is still closed.

"If we had to keep riverside drive open it would've been not only unsafe it would've elongated project even longer than what it already is,"  Zachary said 

While the gathering place started to take shape, the city made sure all the important infrastructure upgrades from the nearby neighborhoods were put in place.

Let's not forget riverside drive cuts right through the middle of the country's largest privately funded public park project.

"By doing it that way we have been the best stewards of the citizen's money, but at the same time doing it the best and making I think the park the best that it can be," Zachary said.


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